Augsburg, Germany – 30 years ago as I bid it Adieu!

Thirty years ago this week I departed Augsburg, Germany to report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for the Warrant Officer Basic Training Course.

Augsburg, and Germany, had been a constant part of my life since June 1977. Many adventures. MANY friends. Some heartbreaks. Only the best memories of a band of brothers and sisters.

Today I remain close friends with many of my comrades-in-arms from those days. (Actually our primary weapon was a set of headphones, sometimes with multiple conversations going on in each ear. Whereever we went there were antennaes and … stuff for the antennaes to plug into.)

1985 was also the 2000th anniversary of Augsburg, Germany since its founding by the Romans. Much of my life in Augsburg was lived in the RathausPlatz (city hall plaza), the city’s center: drinking beer, eating schnitzel, shopping, museums, whatever. It was a great place to hang.

One of my very best buddies was Kent Nutting, whom I met while a mudpacker at U.S. Army Field Station Augsburg. To my great surprise he was also best friends with Joseph Cummins, whom I worked with daily. Together we drank a lot of beer chased by strong coffee and ouzo and … we did what soldiers do best … when they are not doing other things that they also do best.

Note: A ‘Mudpacker’ is a highly technical military intelligence term from the world of SIGINT (Signals Intelligence). We also worked ‘tricks’ while being ‘mudpackers’. I could tell you what that means … but I won’t … unless you buy me some Bier und Wurst mit Senf (beer and sausages with mustard) … then we can talk … if you have the proper security clearance.

The wax engraving below of the Zentralplatz and its huge Kirche (church), made to look like a copper image, was a goodbye gift from Kent Nutting. It has been a prized possession ever since.

Augsburg Germany 2000 year anniversary


ASA - Army Security Agency

Veterans Day 2014 / How and Why I Joined the U.S. Army

John H. Golden, Sr.
John H. Golden, Sr.

My father was a Marine and my mother a Department of the Navy civilian.

I was graduating high school during the Vietnam War years. I wanted to go to college. My father said NO to helping me pay for college.

OK, so … the military offered college tuition if you joined. Being the son of a Marine I went down to talk to the USMC recruiter. He wasn’t in. That night I told my girlfriend and she went ballistic. NO, no, no … she said that I wasn’t going in the Marines … to set me straight she called a family friend that knew all about the military and asked him to call me.

Her friend was an Army recruiter. It never occured to her to ask how he knew so much about the military.

My father: John Henry Golden Sr, 1934-2001, Korean War Vet, USMC

I went on to serve in the U.S. Army from July 5, 1974-April 1, 1996.

 

Strange World War II Facts … Factoids … Strange things you never learned in school

You might enjoy this from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret., and history buff. You would really have to dig deep to get this kind of ringside seat to history:

1. The first German serviceman killed in WW II was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937). The first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940); highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old: Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced ‘sink us’); the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named ‘Amerika.’ All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. [Actually the 8th Air Force alone suffered about 5,000 more KIA than the entire Marine Corps in WW2.] While completing the required 30 missions, an airman’s chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese Ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice for fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a big mistake. Tracers had different ballistics, at long range… if your tracers were hitting the target, 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers, instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not cool and something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rates go down.

Here’s something related from 5th SF, Detachment B-52’s Tips of the Trade item #32; “Tracers work both ways”.

7. When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did was piss in it. This was a pretty universal act from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton had himself photographed pissing in the river.

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but Hitler decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

9. German submarine U-1206 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet…..OMG !!!

10. Among the first ‘Germans’ captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

11. Following a incredible massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the assault on the island. It could have been worse if there had been actual Japanese troops on the island.

12. The last marine killed in WW2 was killed by a can of SPAM. He was on the ground as a POW in Japan when rescue flights dropping food and supplies came over, one package came apart in the air and a stray can of SPAM hit him in the head and he was killed.


Thanks to Rob Roth of the Army Security Agency FB forum for sharing this with me.

Murphy’s Laws of Combat

Murphy’s Laws of Combat
— a collection of wisdom by Howard C. Berkowitz

  • Friendly fire – isn’t.
  • Recoilless rifles – aren’t.
  • Suppressive fires – won’t.
  • You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.
  • A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
  • If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.
  • Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, call in an air strike.
  • If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short.
  • Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
  • Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.
  • Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
  • If your attack is going really well, it’s an ambush.
  • The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.

 

The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:

  • when they’re ready.
  • when you’re not.
  • No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
  • Five second fuses always burn three seconds.
  • There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole. A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.

WDGolden.com is Bill’s World

I grew up a traveler. Was born in Virginia. Many years later I have reset my roots again in Virginia.

My family moved to Alabama while I was still in first grade. Second grade started in Georgia and I finished in Florida. Even in Florida I went to three different elementary schools.

Middle school and high school years were both stable and very memorable parts of my life. Yet the travel bug had bitten me. I remember reading about the Roman and Greek empires and vowing to myself that I would see what remains of them one day. I have not (yet) made it to Greece but have traveled widely otherwise, and been to Pompeii and to Venice a number of times.

At home, our house has many languages in it. My wife is Japanese and both of my sons were born in Japan. My wife studied both German and English while in school, my youngest son is a student of  German and Russian, and I can mumble well enough in Czech, French, German and Russian to get myself into trouble. Often. My oldest son is fond of Latin and I’ve dabbled in it. Our TV is more often than not on the NHK Japanese satellite program. My son and I share music videos back and forth in German and Russian — and we regularly speak both languages between ourselves just for practice; my soccer teams provide plenty of chance to practice too with there easily being 7 or 8 languages spoken on the team.

I joined the Army at age 17 and by the time I retired from the Army I had spent more time overseas than in the U.S. Little of my life between the age of 19 and 38 were from living in these united states. Fate smiled kindly upon me and I finished my military career back in Virginia — where I live and work today, when I am not travelling.

After retiring from the Army I took my experiences and formed a company: IntelligenceCareers.com, now in its 12th or so year of service to America in a different way.

My sport is soccer, aka futbol. I was never much good at playing the game but I fell in love with kicking a ball in the third grade when I met kickball. Then at the tender age of 19 I met a soccer ball in Germany and we’ve been best friends ever since.

Back in the late 1990s my son’s team needed a coach and I volunteered. It is not that I am a great coach or player — admittedly I didn’t have many coaching skills — but someone has to step forward. I’ve never had problems trying new things. I do not let not knowing what I am doing get in the way of trying new things, or setting new objectives to conquer. Overcoming underestimation has been very good to me.

My soccer playing days are long past, but along the way I’ve coached every age group between U7-U30, served as co-commissioner for soccer in the seven counties of northern Virginia, served on the board of directors for one of the largest soccer clubs in Virginia, and have shelves of trophies. In spring 2010 I even coached two U19 teams with both winning championships in their divisions.

When I’m not on the field or working – although work for me is not really work — I’m dabbling in politics or reading or genealogy or … my wife Yoko has never said that I should find a hobby.

Stay curious.