Sunday, February 23, 2014


 Weaponsman Blog often has a post up about the Special Forces. That makes sense, being ex Special Forces (if there is such a thing as ex Special Forces).

This brought to mind an encounter with the Special Forces and our motley collection of PFC Roosevelt McSurly’s in the Combat Engineers.

Circa the winter of 1966, we were doing our annual clusterfuck goat roping, officially know as the Annual Combat Proficiency Test. This was a three day affair which, if you didn’t pass, you repeated. Without going into gruesome detail, believe me when I say it was not designed to be a fun time.

We were bivouacked in a forested area. The German civilians were always working in these areas even as we played soldier. God help you if you damaged a tree! A four silver acorn tabbed Forest Miester could make the meanest 1st Sergeant look like a recruit.

Our problems were increased by having 105 vehicles with roster strength of 120-130 personnel of all ranks and specialties. Everyone was a truck driver first. Our vehicles were large, not real maneuverable, and needed to be scattered to make an “air attack” harder. 

Up to our roadblock came an agriculture tractor pulling a trailer with five very fit young men riding on it. All were dressed as forest workers,  but seemed a little off. They were clean, and the tractor new and shiny. We were suspicious.

 1st Lieutenant Fuckup IV came up and took charge. He ordered us to allow the tractor to proceed. We tried to voice our suspicions but were firmly told he didn’t need our input, just to comply with his orders, in a rude and arrogant manner.

About an hour later the umpires failed us. Chalk marks were on our water trailer, commo trailer, operations van, etc., courtesy of the “foresters”, indicating sabotage. We didn’t get to pack up. Instead, we finished the exercise knowing we would soon be repeating it.

Those Special Forces guys were too cute. With the way we dispersed our vehicles to prevent losing all of them to an air or artillery strike, any concept of a guarded perimeter was a joke. Guess they didn’t want to walk in.

They must have had a hard time suppressing smirks as they watched the Lt make an ass out of himself. He strutted around like a bantam rooster. Worst officer I ever had. I wouldn’t have trusted him to procure a pet license.

It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall during that after action debriefing.

On a few occasions, we provided safety boats (27’ Bridge Erection Boats) at night while people paddled around in various inflated craft. We weren’t told, nor did we ask, who/what these units were. We had a fair idea, as only one part of the Army, at that point in time, wore berets or non standard head gear like forage caps.  Our only contact was when some of them would come over and mooch our hot coffee. 

Side bar, two engines per craft means two exhaust manifolds that will heat up cans of water quickly. We engineers made our comfort a priority.

Moving on to the Forest Meisters, after an exercise was over, we would go back in a few days to mitigate “maneuver damage”. One time a particularly inept unit member managed to knock down a scrawny sorry looking excuse for a tree by backing into it. Springing into action, we righted the tree, packed dirt around the roots, glued the bark back on, and left the area. Herr Forest Meister came in the next day to make his inspection. Of course, he parked his VW Beetle by the tree. Of course, the damn tree fell over on his car. Sucked to be the SLJO that day (Shitty Little Jobs Officer – other duties assigned, including Public Affairs Officer, Graves Registration, Supply Officer, Mess Officer, etc.)

Some of us thought those blanket heads borrowed that tractor and trailer from the Forest Meisters. Part of their skill set; making nice with the locals. Just another reason for us to dislike Forest Meisters, since we had an adversarial relationship with them anyway. We enjoyed the mental picture of the tree on the car. In fact, we laughed our asses off. German American friendship wasn’t a high priority with us.

In later years one of my best friends was ex Special Forces.;postID=4237008542382486758;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=1;src=postname

Dirty Al was just a tad bit full of himself when discussing Special Forces, but, if you walked the walk, you are entitled to talk the talk. The amount of motivation, effort, and dedication needed for that job was way beyond the likes of me.

Hope this type of material isn’t boring anyone. A past post, “Fulda Gap”, is still getting six or so views a week.

Rambling down memory lane seems to be part of getting old. Some relatives enjoy hearing old stories, from me and others, as part of the family lore. Lucky world; I’m the only blogger.


  1. Lieutenants, always making a job harder than it needs to be!!

  2. Nicely done, and too bad you got 'stuck' with an idjit officer... Those are NOT small rigs either!!!

    1. Everyone suffered at least one idijt. It was challenging moving those rigs through some of the small German towns.

  3. If you were up in the Gap, were you out of Fulda or Wildflecken? I spent 18 months in the 54th '81-82. Do you still have the obligatory photo standing next to the Schlitz city limits sign?

  4. We were both in units that were part of the 37th Engineer Group, headquartered at Pioneer Kaserne, Hanau. If memory serves, the 37th had three separate companies, Float Bridge, Baily Bridge, and Heavy Equipment, plus two Combat Engineer Battalions. A "separate" company was set up TO&E with the administration capability of a battalion and could be attached to any command level. Wildflecken wasn't the most fun place to be stationed. We were 20 klicks from Frankfert.

  5. My second FRG tour was Hanau, 3rd Armored, in the 43rd EN, at Hessen-Homburg kaserne. The 54th, at Wildflecken, was part of 130th En Bde, who apparently replaced 37th Group. Ah, going down the memory hole.

  6. I remember Hessen-Homberg although we rarely had anything to do with the units there, except, of course, at the Jolly Bar.