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.
ABBA became part of my DNA at some point in the distant past. Voulez-vous hooked me … but perhaps my favorite ABBA album was their very last.
After all the great pop hits, ABBA gave us The Visitors. It was a rather dark album in many ways that matched my life at that moment. I was busy trying to keep a marriage together while travelling around the world doing stuff. People were mad at us. We had introduced the neutron bomb into Europe (only in the UK really), and then there was the Polish Crisis and I didn’t speak Polish, just Czech — which oddly seemed close enough for government work (Polish sounds like gibberish to be me and my brain could never sort it all out), and Russian leaders were dying faster than the KGB could find replacements. At the very least I was fortunate and blessed to be in a very special little military intelligence unit in Augsburg, Germany with the world’s best group of people that ever did ‘stuff’ (the 326th ASA Company) … although I also thought that about the 307th ASA and my time in the FCAC … and I was rather fond of my time in the 750th ASA in Japan … and then … anyway, ABBA had a song playing the entire time.
ABBA: ‘Soldiers write the songs and soldiers sing the songs that you and I don’t sing. They blog their horns and march along’.
I did sing the songs that soldiers sing. And I loved it! Would do it all over again … on most days.