120 Things the 511th Learned During Hohenfels 1990

This 8th installment in my posts from the history of the 511th is the list of things that we learned at Hohenfels 1990, which was written by EW2. I have it in my notes that we nicknamed this field problem "Operation Lost Cause," which still seems appropriate.

Before I get to the list, I have to point one thing out - some of the comments in this list were really, really harsh with regard to their treatment of CPT Quinn. Actually, CPT Quinn was one of my favorite commanders - I mean, any commander that would let his subordinates tackle him and throw him in the mud pit in front of his family and peers has got to be pretty cool, right? I actually think that CPT Quinn (later MAJ Quinn) did more for the morale of the company than MAJ Bute ever did. For as much as everyone looked up to LTC Lesser as our best mission-focused commander, he sometimes didn't seem to care all that much about the morale of his subordinates; this was evidenced when MAJ Bute found a pile of awards which were buried in the company commander's desk that LTC Lesser had never handed out to soldiers before he left the 511th. (Some awards had to be mailed to people that had already ETS'd.) So I disagree with what was said about CPT Quinn, but I can try to put things in perspective - we had no history with CPT Quinn when we went on this deployment, and we had something of a bad first impression. But just because I do not agree with some of these statements doesn't mean that I should start cutting things out of the list - so for the sake of posterity I present the list with all of the comments that I would personally consider unnecessary. (Although I did cut out the profanity.)

Without further adieu, here's the list:

Things we learned at Hohenfels '90

  1. CPT Quinn is a ********, more follows.
  2. TRQ-30 antennas make great chock blocks. (Right 1LT Innocenti?)
  3. We must jump at midnight because we need the practice.
  4. Yes, the TRQ-32 does have a maximum load capacity.
  5. No matter how bad chow gets, it can always get worse.
  6. Jumping can be fun if you do it daily.
  7. T&A teams have short tempers.
  8. The sludge at the bottom of mess hall coffee really isn't toxic. (???)
  9. EW2 can run two weeks without air conditioning in the TRQ-32 while EW1 can't last two minutes.
  10. CPT Quinn is an *******, more follows.
  11. One should pull guard if there is nothing else to do.
  12. When all else fails, kick Myers out of the truck.
  13. The TRQ-30 is the ultimate intercept device. (Not!!!)
  14. Pork every night gets old pretty quickly.
  15. D.A. is incapable of reasonable thought early in the morning, or later for that matter.
  16. Morale gets pretty ugly with no sleep after four weeks in the field and two more to go.
  17. CPT Quinn is a moron, more follows.
  18. You don't "Out" Black-6, he "Out's" you.
  19. Cooks don't appreciate "101 things to do with pork" cookbooks.
  20. Cooks can actually read!!!
  21. Everyone wakes up in a wonderful mood after a night jump.
  22. The 533rd M.I. BN sucks as OPFOR support.
  23. It's better to be called an ******* than a D.A.T.
  24. CPT Quinn should be a D.A.T., more follows.
  25. It's fun to chase boars through the woods wearing Night Vision Goggles.
  26. The TRQ-32 can be quite an effective jammer. (Not!!!)
  27. The better that we seem to be doing, the more we get f***** with.
  28. SGT Degrood sets up a mean camo net. (For a cheeser anyway...)
  29. Blanco can't I.C.D.; "Please go to MOPP4..."
  30. Blanco will eat anything.
  31. CPT Quinn is a devious *******, more follows.
  32. Breakfast is always more enjoyable when you eat it at lunch.
  33. Frosted mini-wheats are worth killing for.
  34. We work better when the C.O. is in Fulda.
  35. CPT Quinn has twisted, God-image delusions of himself, more follows.
  36. The 533rd can play both OPFOR and OCE's, because that's fair.
  37. Always build a hooch in case it rains.
  38. 24 hour OP's are essential in an eight-hour war.
  39. Boots look better without polish. (Just ask D.A.)
  40. Miles gear can still be entertaining without blanks. (Silent but deadly.)
  41. Everbody wants to be a jammer.
  42. M-8 alarms work better without batteries.
  43. Duerkson can I.C.D. while sleeping 500 yards from a jammer.
  44. Whitfield can never get enough sleep.
  45. J.J. should come to the field, even if he is clearing.
  46. It's amazing how much handcopying English isn't like handcopying Russian.
  47. It always pays to have a radio mechanic and your armorer look at your generator.
  48. MOPP2 is much more fashionable than MOPP1. (Booties are cute.)
  49. Too bad cigars don't keep away officer pests like they do insects.
  50. The new style in EW2 sleepware is the Hoff Stealth Tent.
  51. Landline for field phones only serves as trip wires.
  52. Chow is appreciated more if it's been held a few hours, even more if it's cooked.
  53. CPT Quinn is a ******-******** ***-****** from a festering ***-****, (and Duerkson should know!), more follows.
  54. We all need more driver's training when Service's brakes go out.
  55. There is a difference between the hood and brake release.
  56. You can learn a lot from Taboo Freqs.
  57. Comm's work better with a fill in the Vinson.
  58. You can do a lot of damage with an M-60 and no miles equipment.
  59. Our officers would get us killed if this were real combat.
  60. If you can lie, you can I.C.D.
  61. BCG's look better on Duerkson than real glasses would.
  62. D.A. is secretly a Leprosy carrier.
  63. 98C's should always man Trojan when 98G's go to the field.
  64. Alex is the world's biggest shammer, McGee takes a close second.
  65. Never offer D.A. a dip, he'll take the whole can.
  66. It pays to buy quart-sized coffee mugs.
  67. CPT Quinn is a putz, more follows.
  68. The only thing worth buying at the shoppette is the Blonde.
  69. (This is a number not seen at Hohenfels.)
  70. The TRQ-32's DF antennas look much better with chem-lites dangling from them.
  71. Officers don't like lists of things we've learned.
  72. Fred can make mistakes, too.
  73. Sleep deprivation is good for the soul.
  74. You can go for days without shaving, and even then only an officer will notice.
  75. You can get a TRQ-32 level anywhere if you have enough rocks.
  76. If McCollum died, EW1's TRQ-32 squad would be lost forever.
  77. We don't need a TCAE now that we have CPT Quinn.
  78. We all love CPT Quinn's radio procedures, more follows.
  79. It's amazing how much you can not give a s*** about.
  80. You don't need to start the radio watch vehicle all that often.
  81. We need more camo nets. (Not!!!)
  82. You're in the war even if you're not in the box.
  83. Married guys don't really want to see their wives.
  84. Everyone has to stay in the field, but CPT Quinn gets to go home anyway.
  85. Uncle Martin is a coffee-waster.
  86. 1LT Innocenti really has no idea what the hell is going on.
  87. Listening to OCE nets gives you an edge on the battle.
  88. Miles gear gets comfortable the more that you wear it. (Not!!!)
  89. You can handcopy on the move even if you can't drink coffee.
  90. It's fun to be the 1LT's driver. (Not!!!)
  91. OCE's are friendly people.
  92. We're all having a great time.
  93. The RCO can live to eat his words. ("EW support sucks in Hohenfels...")
  94. You can still drive vehicles with Class III leaks and broken windshields.
  95. "4-LO" is a wonderful gear.
  96. Life is not complete without shaving.
  97. We just came here to feed the bugs.
  98. Life was easier with Babbs.
  99. EW2 is invisible to armed OPFOR task forces.
  100. There is no such thing as down time.
  101. If you don't want to lose at Mumbly-Peg, play with Jeff Morris.
  102. Hedgehogs sound deceptively large at night.
  103. Night Vision Goggles and flashlights don't mix.
  104. 1LT Innocenti does do a good impression of a Mexican.
  105. 1LT Innocenti and Flores do know where the bad parts of Houston are. (Wonder why?)
  106. OPFOR sucks.
  107. Reconning can be fun.
  108. Rocks don't make good baseballs, but "out-of-bounds" markers make great bats.
  109. After five weeks with Whitfield you can still hate Rap Music.
  110. You can read a lot of books when you're bored to tears.
  111. When all else fails, scream at the OCE's.
  112. Fred is a self-proclaimed geek.
  113. Myers knows lots of useless facts.
  114. It helps to count the number of days you have left in Fulda.
  115. 1LT Innocenti has no life.
  116. OPFOR has no sense of humor.
  117. Whitfield will take a Humvee where no man has gone before.
  118. We make life harder on ourselves by not whining as hard as EW1.
  119. We all have bad attitudes.
  120. If you are winning at Hohenfels, you must be cheating.

One brief explanation for point #12 - there was some steep hill in Hohenfels that EW1 couldn't get their TRQ-32 to climb, no matter who was behind the wheel. Then a few days later EW2 tried to take the hill; several people from EW2 made the attempt with our TRQ-32, but to no avail. That is - until I got behind the wheel, and I ordered Steve "Felix" Myers to get out of the truck. In hindsight, I completely realize that it was just as much luck as skill that enabled me to get that motorized mammoth up the mountain - but that didn't stop me from having the coolest bragging rights for the next few weeks. (FWIW - D.A. Morris was there, and he also failed to get the TRQ-32 up the hill despite several attempts, so he can vouch for my story - just in case you have reason to doubt my sincerity. ;-] )

100 Things the 511th Learned During the ARTEP of 1991

Today's contribution marks the 7th installment in my series about the 511th MI Company's misadventures, which I collected during my tenure there from 1988 through 1991. This list was composed by the EW2 platoon during the ARTEP of 1991 - I believe it was in April - which we dubbed "Operation Pogo Stick." This name seemed apropos because of the considerable frequency that the EW platoons were required to jump sites, for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of watching the level of aggravation that it caused. I think that this was the last deployment that I went on with the 511th; shortly after the ARTEP had ended, DeGrood and I got our orders to PCS back to the states, and everyone else got orders to Kuwait.

Things we learned during ARTEP '91

  1. Hot refuels really are (with lanterns).
  2. Point fire extinguishers at flames.
  3. Don't play Russian Roulette with a .45.
  4. Mosquito nets make good kindling.
  5. Calling SGT Tabbert "Larry" is effective aggravation.
  6. Being "killed" is the only way to get a couple hours' sleep.
  7. The Official ARTEP Song: "Jump" by Van Halen.
  8. There are no weapon mounts on HMMWV bumpers.
  9. SGT Rice makes a 2LT with a map look good.
  10. MI-51's radio has a maximum effective range of 100 meters, and MI-52's is about 100 inches.
  11. You can get away at MOPP 0 in a MOPP 1 environment, until the MAJ sees you.
  12. Ken be nimble, Ken be lean, Can't jump over the Concertine. He jump high, he jump low. He get caught, down he go.
  13. TCAE can get tracks to the field, but not back.
  14. Security isn't.
  15. Chase vehicles don't.
  16. The best form of land navigation is a well-informed German.
  17. An unheated, unlit tent and a pile of BOGINT tapes is an effective TRQ-32 simulator (bring your own paper).
  18. The latest in EW sleepware is the DA Morris Improved Stealth Tent.
  19. Mumbly-Peg is easier with the knife unsheathed.
  20. This was a very well thought out, and carefully planned exercise. NOT!!!
  21. Mumbly-Pistol is a game as yet untried.
  22. SGT Cyr relates well with farm animals. ("Moo...")
  23. Reimers can sham out of anything if he really wants to.
  24. Germans on holidays make interesting navigational obstacles.
  25. The TRQ-32 is the coffee-making, radio watch sitting, front seat sleeping, $800,000 car stereo wonder of the 20th century.
  26. Fred can never be in too warm an environment.
  27. The TRQ-32 glove box is hell on the shins.
  28. Handcopying BOGINT in MOPP 3 is a joyous experience.
  29. It's just no fun wearing a protective mask with a runny nose.
  30. GRA-39's make excellent car stereo amplifiers.
  31. TRQ-30 DF antennas are better left in the rear.
  32. M-8 alarms work better without batteries.
  33. We can ID more types of static now.
  34. You can teach the LT something new every day.
  35. LT's aren't sensitive items, but they have feelings, too.
  36. The LT wigs out when challenged.
  37. It was good training. NOT!!!
  38. Who's the a****** who made those 2-minute intercept to 2-hour static tapes?
  39. Blind TCAE geeks should not be allowed to recon intercept sites.
  40. The TACJAM squad is now cross-trained in landscaping.
  41. Duerksen can "hold it" for 4.5 days.
  42. Roddick don't know s*** about whoopie lights.
  43. Menthol cigarettes don't cut it.
  44. Roddick's new discovery - wet newspaper. It camos as it cleans.
  45. It's more fun 4-wheeling.
  46. Starvation is preferable over chili-mac and lima beans.
  47. Duerksen and Roddick can eat a whole cow.
  48. German kids love MREs. (That looks bad as a culture, doesn't it?)
  49. Braddy is too lazy to drive 10 minutes to see us. (So the d*** flew.)
  50. Germans don't like having M-60s pointed at them.
  51. Noise discipline need not be observed near 200 decibel generators.
  52. Propane heaters are heaven.
  53. Rich is a lying son-of-a-b**** when asked about this ARTEP.
  54. The CO has no sense of humor where guard posts are concerned.
  55. O'Conner has no tact.
  56. The TLQ squad is still the Kase-Camo Net Meisters.
  57. It seems like you always jump during your sleep shift.
  58. TCAE goons sleep more in one night than EW geeks do in a whole week.
  59. Mumbly-Peg doesn't work with swiss army knives.
  60. Lanterns with broken globes are somewhat dangerous.
  61. Field coffee isn't.
  62. Guard duty sucks. (That's why officers don't do it, right?)
  63. Vehicles, though forbidden, are still the preferred sleeping areas.
  64. Hooches get simpler the more you jump. ("All I need is a cot...")
  65. The TACJAM squad knows Germany.
  66. After a week in the field, even the locals smell good.
  67. World War II issue maps are not effective navigational tools.
  68. Only the TLQ squad can out Black-6.
  69. (This number is still not seen hereabouts.)
  70. Sure DeGrood has tonsillitis.
  71. Reimers' other foot will be broken upon our return.
  72. When you're a minute early on shift you're the greatest, when you're a minute late you're an a******.
  73. Johnson's magazine subscriptions are enjoyed by all.
  74. Where's the Jam button?
  75. Where's the Fix button?
  76. What freq am I on?
  77. Are we on Zulu or Local time?
  78. Mr. Roller is as effective an NBC alarm as an M-8 without batteries.
  79. Just because it looks like rain doesn't mean that it will.
  80. You know that you need a haircut when you can grow dreads in the field.
  81. Brush guards do.
  82. Brushing your teeth is really a morale booster.
  83. If German's can find our sites, why can't we?
  84. Never ask DA for a light. ("But he looks good with a singed face...")
  85. Burning tents are wonderful reference points at night.
  86. What do Germans do with all that lumber?
  87. The TRQ-32 needs a microwave.
  88. After a week of ARTEP, even TROJAN sounds good.
  89. The TRQ-32 has the only working radio in the PLT.
  90. It's nice to pull radio watch in a vehicle with a good heater.
  91. Cold mornings suck. (1 week from summer.)
  92. We never thought we'd be so happy to see a 1-week field problem end.
  93. Duerksen doesn't like grits.
  94. Groovy man remembers lots of worthless music.
  95. Everybody still wants to be a jammer.
  96. MOPP 1 is quite warm.
  97. Civilian life can't be all that bad.
  98. Newbies whine almost as much as EW1, but not quite.
  99. TCAE can drop the ball, duck the issue, pass the buck, and wash their hands of it better than anyone else.
  100. I wonder what Hohenfels will be like this year...?

In another strange turn of events, after I PCS'd to Fort Huachuca, I met the guy that made those 2-minute intercept to 2-hour static tapes that we mentioned in item #38 of the list, and I wound up working with him. (And just to satisfy anyone's curiosity - yes, he made those on purpose. He was a nice guy, but he had a wicked sense of humor.) Later on, I was asked to create intercept tapes for the MI officer school at Fort Huachuca, and I followed his lead by creating tapes that sounded like HF traffic - with hours and hours of radio printers, static, and morse code transmissions stomping on top of the voice messages. (FYI - The officers hated these tapes - mission accomplished.) But here's a quick behind-the-scenes trivia fact: I didn't actually record any actual radio printer or morse code transmissions from HF frequencies - I created them on my computer. Most radio printer traffic is simple Frequency Shift Key transmissions, so I wrote some algorithms that would allow me to enter a text string into my computer, which would be converted to binary, and then encoded into an audio stream based on a baud rate and space/mark frequencies that I picked. When I was done - they sounded identical to the real thing. So what did all of those ear-splitting radio printer messages actually say if you plugged them into a computer? Things like, "I hate the Army," "I can't wait to ETS," etc. Yes - even then I was a geek.

IHateTheArmy.mp3 (76.73 kb) "I Hate The Army" Frequency Shift Key (FSK) Sample

Famous 511th Quotations from Hohenfels 1990

In the 6th part of my series on the 511th MI Company, I have a short list of quotes that the ESM guys collected at Hohenfels, 1990.

  • "Don't [dip] chew when expecting chow; it always arrives in 2 minutes." - D.A. Morris
  • "Sorry, I used the wrong grid." - Bill McCollum
  • "So, this is where we are...?" - Jeff Norris
  • "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener." - Joe Masten
  • "You guys aren't Prima Donnas!" - 1LT Innocenti
  • "You talk a lot of s***, but you're just another officer." - Fred
  • "More follows..." - CPT Quinn
  • "Who's f***in' around, dammit?!!" - J. Morris
  • "I'll either make a career in or out of the Army." - Jeff Norris
  • "F*** the camo nets..." - EW2's ESM squad
  • "Slow that thing down or I'll have you force-marching everywhere!" - CPT Quinn
  • "Are we doing the speed limit?" - 1LT Innocenti
  • "This is good training." - LTG Joulwan
  • "It's hard to convince Fred that he's wrong." - Whitfield
  • "I'm not wrong!" - Fred
  • "That's the problem with NCO's..." - Felix
  • "The 511th MI Company thanks you for that grid..." - Steve Barnes
  • "You have to go to MOPP4? I hate it when that happens!" - Dork

Ah, CPT Quinn - everyone tried to explain to him that "break" was the proper proword to use when you had more to send over the radio, but he steadfastly refused to use anything other than "more follows." Obviously CPT Quinn was trained incorrectly when he went through MI Officer Basic. In one of those weird full circle coincidences, when I transferred to Fort Huachuca the following year, I wound up being the NCO that was in charge of training and grading the officers that were going through MI Officer Basic. I had no qualms whatsoever about telling any officer that they were a "NOGO" at my station, because I knew that these officers were going to wind up in charge of some poor MI platoon, and I couldn't put my fellow MI brethren through the embarrassment of having an officer that didn't know how to use the darn radio correctly.

1LT Innocenti and I did not get along on this field problem - although I don't think that he got along with anyone else in the EW platoons. Since 1LT Innocenti moved to GSR immediately after we returned to garrison, we only had him as a platoon leader for the combined duration of Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr, or about six weeks total, making that one of the shortest durations for a platoon leader that I saw in my eight years of military service. D.A. Morris saved my career while we were out in the field at Hohenfels when I stepped towards 1LT Innocenti with the full intention of decking him after he refused to let D.A. and I take everyone's guard duty and radio watch shifts to make up for all their hard work over the past several weeks. 1LT Innocenti claimed that he had done more work than anyone else, while in reality the only duty that he performed was running chow for us when he wasn't sleeping. What was even worse, his poor choices for words were accusing all of my subordinates of being lazy, while in reality they had been working nearly round-the-clock for several days. This was too much for me to take, so my right arm clenched into a fist and it would have been travelling in the direction of 1LT Innocenti's face when D.A. caught my arm and pulled me aside. I found out later that 1LT Innocenti had a black belt in Karate - so I probably wouldn't have been able to land a single punch before being hauled away to prison for assaulting an officer. (Thanks D.A. for saving my life!)

I bumped into CPT Innocenti several years later when he was going through the MI Officer Advanced Course in Ft. Huachuca, where I was helping to teach MI Operations. By that time we were able to have a few laughs about our shared history with no hard feelings. (CPT Innocenti - if you ever read this, my apologies once again; I was pretty young at the time.)

Another funny story about Hohenfels in 1990 was that I was one of only a handful of people that were chosen from the 11th ACR to brief LTG Joulwan, (who was the commanding general for all of the US Army forces in Europe), about regimental operations in Hohenfels. When the general arrived, I gave him a tour of the ESM gear, showed him how it worked, explained how we conducted operations, etc. After fifteen minutes or so, LTG Joulwan asked me what I thought of his field problem. I looked him right in the eye and said, "Frankly sir, I think it sucks." At that moment, 1LT Innocenti was standing behind the general, and I watched as he put his face in his hands - probably feeling that his career had just ended. The general was momentarily taken aback, and then he asked, "Why?" So I took the next five to ten minutes or so explaining how his deployment of US forces didn't match actual enemy tactics, how their radio communications were completely dissimilar, how we were able to wreak havoc simply by ICD'ing everyone on the planet, etc. The general and I had a pretty good conversation that lasted for several minutes, and eventually we agreed to disagree on several points. Before his departure, LTG Joulwan gave me one of his custom-made USAEUR coins "in recognition of my outstanding achievements," then he got in his humvee and drove off. CPT Quinn dropped by later and informed me that out of the hundreds of people that LTG Joulwan had met that day, I was one of only two people to which the general had given a coin. (CPT Quinn also asked me never to do that again.) So I like to remember that I received a medal (more or less) for being one of the few people who was willing to tell a three-star general to his face that I thought his training sucked.

More Famous Moments in the 511th History

My 5th installment of this series about the 511th MI Company is pretty much a sequel to the 4th installment. I'm fairly certain that I had two lists in my notes because they were more than likely created during different field problems a year or so apart.

It was also a great day for the 511th when...

  • Alex hits a lady's car to get a date, totals the car, and doesn't get the date (Reforger, 1990)
  • 10-Pin walked into an enemy HQ and asked for their crypto fills, and he got them (Hohenfels, 1989)
  • Alex was relieved as platoon sergeant for EW2, and got a better job in the process (February, 1990)
  • Babs gets lost in Augsburg with his prized possession; his 1:100,000 scale map (Reforger, 1990)
  • Felix screamed at OCE's he thought were attacking while he was [relieving himself] in the bushes (Hohenfels, 1990)
  • The Tacjam went down for the count (Reforger, 1990)
  • The TRQ-32 team loses 5 people to a 10th Mountain suicide squad, but still manages to kill the whole squad (Reforger, 1990)
  • Romero and Meador rolled MI-28 when their brakes failed (Hohenfels, 1990)
  • Nada picks a fight with a wall in the Tacjam, and loses (Reforger, 1990)
  • J.J. qualifies on the M16, on the 198th round fired (Grafenwoehr, 1990)
  • Alex ordered Whitfield to be thrown into the mud pit for taking a shower while everyone else was unloading vehicles in the MOPO (Caravan Guard, 1989)
  • Dodge hits himself in the head with his M16 getting out of a HMMWV (2 minutes after Reforger, 1990)
  • Someone threw up all over the Bay of Pigs at Mt. Meissner, but no one ever found out who (November, 1989)
  • Martin and Dodge ICD'd a Medevac net, a little too successfully (Reforger, 1990)
  • D.A. becomes a BOGINT Master (Sudden Eudy, 1989)
  • Mason asked Cyr for a can to [relieve himself] in, then asked Cyr to dump it for him (Reforger, 1990)
  • D.A. got a date! (March 1, 1990)
  • Fred made a mistake on the TRQ-32 (Hohenfels, 1990)
  • EW2's ECM squad ambushed the ESM squad and no one cared enough to get out of bed (Hohenfels, 1990)

I should like to point out that the mistake that I made on the TRQ-32 was not opening the ventilation flap on the side of the generator. I pointed that out myself, but that didn't stop the rest of the squad from holding me down and giving me a pink belly. I believe D.A. was the overall ringleader for my punishment, but I'm sure that I had it coming. ;-]

Famous Moments in the 511th History

In the 4th installment of this series about the 511th MI Company, I have a list of what we thought were great moments in 511th history. I don't know if anyone else recalls, but whenever morale was hitting a low point during a field problem - I'd pull out a pad of paper and have everyone make an obnoxious list of some sort. These lists were usually laced with a great deal of cynicism - and more often than not a great deal of profanity. So I'll have to clean these up a little before posting. ;-]

It was a great day for the 511th when...

  • Sarge took a mud bath (O-Day, 1989)
  • J.D.'s guitar was destroyed by J.J.
  • Caudill threw his computer out the barracks window, then jumped out the window after it and jumped up and down on it (1988)
  • Dodge got stuck in the turnstile at Mt. Meissner
  • Cyr was attacked in the Snow Bear Pit (November, 1988)
  • Punky took a swing at Duncan
  • Fred took a swing at Duncan
  • Anybody else took a swing at Duncan
  • Ortiz rolled MI-40 four times (RTCE, 1989)
  • TCAE's tent caught fire (Wildflecken, 1989)
  • Punky and Fred slid down Meissner in a GLQ-3B (February, 1988)
  • Duncan and Skip got thrown out of Wobeck (February, 1988)
  • 1SG Ross went to the field the first and last time (Reforger, 1987)
  • J.J. called 1LT Stahl a geek at the Irish Pub
  • Cyr and 2LT Gibson got lost in Turkey (Ally Express, 1988)
  • 10-Pin sicked his dog, Presely, on Paski (Pre-Artep, 1989)
  • Paski got stung by a bee (RTCE, 1989)
  • Skip and Duncan threw Felix in the shower
  • A waitress told Punky that she didn't speak English after he ordered in German (TRQ-32 TNG, 1988)
  • A recon patrol suprised Babbs and scared him to death (Caravan Guard, 1989)
  • Skip got beat up by a group of drunk germans at FLTCE
  • Whitfield went to the field without a sleeping bag (Bold Lancer, 1989)
  • Whitfield went to the field with only one uniform (Caravan Guard, 1989)
  • Heave came back from FLTCE with lower scores than he went there with
  • Duncan threw up blood at the Kreuz Club
  • EW1 was thrown out of a Turkish brothel (Ally Express, 1989)
  • Dodge, J.J., Nada, and Stayszyk got drunk and [did something foul] on SGT Berger's truck
  • CPT MacDonald threw SSG Alexander off the radio the first time (Caravan Guard, 1989)
  • CPT MacDonald threw SSG Alexander off the radio the second time (Reforger, 1990)
  • Duncan's car broke down on the way to Meissner, and Degrood wouldn't stop for him
  • Dexter got his clearance and lost it in the same weekend
  • Lay taught a group of drunk Brits how to rap (RTCE, 1988)
  • The Tacjam rolled out of the MOPO
  • EW2 helped a German farmer chase his cows (Caravan Guard, 1989)
  • EW was QRC'd and didn't find a single freq (Ghost Chaser, 1988)
  • Duncan asked why he didn't get a Good Conduct Medal
  • J.J. made Duncan clean his bathroom to use his Nintendo
  • CPT Stahl left
  • The Commo platoon, despite a great deal of cheating, lost to EW2 (O-Day, 1989)
  • Paski was promoted to SPC and faced the "Gauntlet"
  • Smith, Fred, and Martin stole Whitfield's clothes from the shower room at Mt. Meissner
  • 1LT McNeil pulled a bayonet on a group of would-be kidnappers (RTCE, 1989)
  • Martin and Fred attacked Hjerrild with pillows at Meissner
  • Woolery slipped on black ice when going up to be promoted and hit MAJ Bute
  • SSG Valier couldn't pronounce "Patriotism" ("Potatochism!")

Bryant - I'd like to apologize on behalf of Smith, Martin, and myself for stealing your clothes at Mt. Meissner. :-S

I'd also like to state - both emphatically and for the record - that I was a member of EW2 when EW1 was thrown out of the Turkish brothel. :-O

And it would be a great disservice if I didn't point out that there's no way that Cyr would have been lost in Turkey if it had not been for 2LT Gibson - the age old adage that the only thing more dangerous than a 2LT with a gun is a 2LT with a map certainly applies to that situation.

Famous Quotations of the Fighting 511th

In part 3 of this series about the 511th MI Company, we'll take a look at some common quotes that were said by several members of the 511th, although this list is obviously not exhaustive. These particular phrases were compiled by members of the EW platoons during one of our field problems, although it's been so many years I don't recall which one. ;-]

  • "Not!" - J.J. Simmons
  • (Anything J.J. says) - Dave Dodge
  • "Figure the odds..." - Tim "Sarge" Meador
  • "Easy Psycho" - Scott Smith
  • "I've gotta go get the mail" - Frank "Skip" Walker (Whenever work needs to be done)
  • "Want to hear a joke? Skip." - James Leamon
  • "Well, back on the farm..." - Steve Myers
  • "Why is everybody always picking on me?" - Bryant Whitfield (and Charlie Brown)
  • "Fred, why haven't you made the coffee yet?" - SGT Morris or SGT Alexander
  • "But I don't know my telephone number..." - Rich Aylward
  • "This ain't Puerto Rico, Mother @#$%!" - Daniel Nadalaliciea
  • "Questions? Comments? War stories?" - LTC Harry K. Lesser
  • "Hey Stud!" - CPT MacDonald
  • "Punky, you're a failure!" - Duncan Habberly
  • "You're right." - James "Punky" Brewster
  • "Sup wi dat?" - Larry Blanco
  • "Hey Guys!" - Tom Haldeman
  • "What's up?" - Alvin Heggie
  • "Son of a biscuit eater!" - Dave Paski
  • "Listen Geek..." - Bob "Fred" McMurray
  • "Word" - J.J. Simmons
  • "Did you ever see...(any war movie)?" - SGT D.A. Morris
  • "Hey, hey, hey." - Breck Tarr
  • "C'mere" - Danny Browning
  • "Good stuff." - 1LT Stahl
  • "Listen Specialist..." - Bill "SGT" Magan
  • "That's special." - Ray Neuharth
  • "Thank you, Luigi." - Jerome Robinson
  • "Omygod! Omygod! Omygod!" - 1LT Babakan
  • "Easy..." - Van Cleave
  • "Listen buttface..." - Dave Paski
  • "Grow up guys!" - Scott Smith
  • "Where's chow?" - SGT Alexander
  • "Holy Cow!" - Steve Myers
  • "What's up?" - Raul Villareal
  • "Don't ask ME!" - Anyone who can get away with it
  • "Cool points." - 1LT Stahl
  • "But SGT Morris..." - 1LT Innocenti
  • "What? Huh?" - Larry Blanco
  • "Why?" - Johann "Bahn" Hoff
  • "More Follows..." - CPT Quinn

For the future, I have some great lists of famous moments in 511th history, and famous quotations from Hohenfels 1990.

Famous Nicknames of the Fighting 511th

In part 2 of my series on the 511th MI Company, we'll take a look at some of the nicknames from the 511th that I managed to write down; although I need to stick to my disclaimer that I did not come up with these nicknames - I just took the time to write them down. ;-]

  • Captain Caveman - Tim Leavitt
  • 10 Pin - Bobby Thanepohn
  • Sleazer - Jim Leamon
  • Punky - Jim Brewster
  • Shaggy, Eugene, and J.J. Not - John Simmons
  • Ichabod and Felix - Steve Myers
  • Tick - Jim Titkemeyer
  • Sarge - Tim Meador
  • Schone Frau - Dave Young
  • Witless and Grimmace - Bryant Whitfield
  • Honkytonk Man - D.A. Morris
  • The Duke - Danny Browning
  • Heave - Steve Maurer
  • Maull and Knoore - Terry Knaul and Tim Moore
  • J.D. - John Davis
  • Fred and Ernie - Bob McMurray
  • Eggdod - Dave Dodge
  • Skip - Frank Walker
  • Lick and Snaggle Tooth - Rick Irvine
  • Van Cheese - Kyle Van Cleave
  • Michelin Man, Uncle Fester, Bleu Cheese, and Sta-Puf - Steve Terry
  • Degrudge - Dave Degrood
  • Mr. Peabody and Mr. Maturity - Scott Smith
  • Buffalo Bill - Bill Magan
  • The Pegster and Heggster - Alvin Heggie
  • Burt - Ramon Ortiz
  • Oreo Cookie Man, Roly-Poly and Karlik - Dan Onstead
  • Splugie - Eudy
  • Hanker - Kent Hawks
  • Spaski - Dave Paski
  • Nada - Daniel Nadalalicea
  • Bhudda - Jeff Morris
  • Snorris - Jeff Norris
  • Roj - Roger Jordan
  • Haystacks - Steve Calhoun
  • Bahn - Johann Hoff
  • Beaver - 1LT Innocenti
  • Uncle Martin - Ken Martin
  • Dork - Heath Duerksen
  • The Three Amigos - Paski, Fred, and J.J.
  • The Fat Boys - Duncan, Skip, and Leamon
  • The Three Stooges - Felix, Blanco, and Whitfield
  • Bullseye Babbs - 1LT Babakan
  • Alfalfa - Rich Aylward
  • Spanky - 1LT McNeil
  • Darla - Some female 1LT from the 108th that 1LT McNeil was chasing
  • LT Stahl and D.A.T. - CPT Stahl
  • Don Knots - 1SG Hall
  • Smelvin - 1SG Ross
  • Chief - CW2 Klebo
  • Harry K. - LTC Lesser
  • Neily D. - MAJ Bute
  • Quinn the Eskimo - MAJ Quinn
  • Frank or Bob - Richard Lebron

And my personal favorite:

  • The Evil Lord Torak - CW2 Torak

There is one nickname that I wrote down that I didn't post here, and that was for Bill McCollum. I didn't add his nickname to this list because it might not be fit for the public. If you remember his nickname, you can smile about it now. If you don't, that'll remain a secret between the rest of us.

Who did I miss?

10/21/2014 Update - Bullseye Babbs was a 1LT who took over one of the EW platoons. He earned his nickname on one of the M-60 ranges when he failed to understand how his weapon's scopes worked, so instead of throwing rounds 1km downrange like everyone else, he was thoroughly pulverizing the ground about 5-10 feet in front of us; huge amounts of debris were being thrown into the air as everyone was screaming at him to cease fire. (It probably would have been funny if it hadn't been so dangerous.)

03/14/2018 Update - Terry Knaul dropped me a line to let me know that I had his name listed incorrectly; my apologies, and that has been fixed.

Famous Callsigns of the Fighting 511th

Over the 3.5 years that I spent in the Fulda Gap with the 511th MI Company, I collected and saved a lot of the stories and lists that the EW and TCAE teams put together. All of this nostalgic trivia is twenty years old now, but it still makes me laugh when I think about the people and times that it represents. Of course, this is mostly a collection of inside jokes with the people that were there.

So this will be part one of a series, and I should point out that I did not create this information - I just took the time to write it down. ;-]

  • Bleu Cheese - Steve Terry
  • Red Chief - Chief Klebo
  • Red Stool - Alvin Heggie (With a case of local sickness in Turkey)
  • White Spank - Lt. McNiel
  • Blue Babs - Lt. Babakan
  • Blue Lips - Dan Nadalalicea (aka Davy Crockett)
  • Blue Popeye - David Alexander
  • Snow White - Dave Paski
  • Black Sheep, Blue Honk, or Blue Mustang - D.A. Morris
  • The D.J. - Mike Tabbert
  • Blue Grimmace - Bryant Whitfield
  • Blue Shag - J.J. Simmons
  • White Duke - Danny Browning
  • Blue Ears - Dave Degrood
  • Blue Alf - Rich Aylward
  • Blue Geek - Bob "Fred" McMurray
  • White Whine - Scott Smith
  • Red Whine - Jeff Norris
  • The Wacky World of Cartoon Characters - The 511th Jammers
  • Blue Bahn - Johan Hoff
  • Blue Beaver - 1LT Innocenti

UPDATE: While these were not entirely unique, we often used the following color-coded generic callsigns when we were on recon assignments where only one radio entity was present from each of the different platoons:

  • Whitesnake
  • Black Sabbath
  • Red Rider
  • Blue Oyster Cult

Replacing a Military Radio - The Hard Way

Many years ago - more years than I would care to admit - I spent eight years in the Army as a 98G Voice Intercept Operator, which is a long title for someone that spends a lot of time listening to what other people are saying, taking notes, and then telling someone else what was being said. I won't go into any more details about what I did for a living, but for several years I was stationed in Fulda, Germany, where I was a member of the 511th Military Intelligence Company, which was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

My fellow soldiers and I spent a lot of time hiding in the forests along what was then the border between East and West Germany, which is where the conditions were generally the best for our line of work. During the day we used an AN/TRQ-32(V) Radio Receiving Set, which we affectionately called the "Turkey 32."

The Turkey 32 was my favorite piece of equipment, and it's primarily used for direction finding operations. (Which means "locating the bad guys.") The only trouble with the Turkey 32 was - it used a great deal of fuel, and its generator was horribly loud, so at night we would shut down the Turkey 32 and use our AN/TRQ-30 Manpack Radio Receiving Set to continue our listening activities... which we called the "Turkey 30."

These radios were left over from a bygone era in the distant past - like the Korean War, or maybe the Civil War - so they were really starting to show their age. One of our radios was falling apart - literally. The knobs on the face panel kept falling off, the reception was terrible, the tuner barely moved, etc. I knew that my Turkey 30 was on its last legs and was in dire need of some kind of emergency maintenance, so one day I hauled my Turkey 30 to our Circuits & Electronics (C&E) office to see what my options were. (I was secretly hoping that C&E would replace the radio, but I was almost certain that it would simply spend a few weeks in the shop for repairs.) I had a good friend who was working in C&E that day, SP4 Villarreal, and he replied that as long as the radio was working, there was nothing that he could do about it.

So I started to pack up the radio, and I was probably muttering something about the fact that I had no idea how long it would take for the radio to eventually die, when Villarreal stopped me and said, "Perhaps you weren't paying attention, so listen to me very closely this time - we can't fix it, but if it doesn't work then we can replace it."

And suddenly - the light bulb turned on.

I blissfully carried the Turkey 30 back to our platoon office in the 511th building and announced to everyone, "Gentlemen, this radio has to die - today." So we spent the next hour or so having a contest to see who could throw the Turkey 30 the furthest from the 2nd-story window where our platoon office was located. After everyone had made their share of attempts at breaking the previous distance record, we declared the contest winners with the usual pomp and circumstance that is called for in such occasions - which means that several people were undoubtedly punched a few times before heading back to work.

Once that was taken care of, I packed up the Turkey 30 and strolled back to the C&E office, where I announced to Villarreal that, "For some reason my Turkey 30 has stopped working." Villarreal didn't blink as he overlooked the massive dents and broken glass and replied, "Well, we'll just have to order you a replacement."

It's times like that when it's great to have friends in the right places. Smile

And the walls came tumbling down...

Today is November 9th - which marks the 20-year anniversary of the re-opening of the borders in Germany, which ultimately resulted in the fall of Soviet Communism. While most of us remember where we were on 9/11/2001, I also remember where I was on 11/9/1989 - I was on the East German border, helping to keep the Russian 8th Guards Army at bay...

For all the hype about the Cold War, Nuclear Proliferation, and Mutually-Assured Destruction that we had way back when, at least we knew who they bad guys were and where they were hiding. I have often said that I loved what I did back then, and that’s still a true statement. That being said, I must admit that I have enough memories to last a dozen lifetimes of sleepless nights in sub-zero temperatures chasing signals through the RF spectrum or standing guard duty in some dark corner of the world where even the evil empire had the good sense to avoid. But the simple fact is - business was good during the Cold War, right up to the time when peace broke out and ruined my life and I had to get a real job. ;-)

In any case, I tip my hat to my fellow members of the Fulda Fighting 511th and the Bat Cave Dwellers of Fort Huachuca. Even though it’s grammatically incorrect to express it this way, it seems appropriate for me to say: "We did good."