Damn The Mission - GI The Floors!
by Gary Anderson (62-63)

From the 11/15/04 BIA Newsletter

To understand the seriousness of the following, you will have to remember that in the early 60’s, the members of the 6912th were still governed by the WWII Army of Occupation rules. If you were missing from duty for less than 30 minutes, you were AWOL, more than 30 minutes, you were a deserter. Pretty serious stuff! 

Another group of visiting generals or some highly placed person in the military decided to visit Berlin and our mission. (I personally always thought they came to Berlin not out of curiosity about our mission but to qualify for the WWII Army of Occupation Medal!)

The word came up from the orderly room that the Brass was coming to visit and the 6th floor had to be ready for inspection. Bill LaChance, Vic Keithley and I were to shut down the analysis room and get it ready for THE VISIT! 

We moved all of the equipment to one end of the room, scrubbed and waxed half of the room and repeated the effort with the other half of the room and then moved all of the equipment back to its original position. That took half of the day shift. Remember, we had to use GI mops and buckets and finish the process with the infamous pink Selb Glanz Floor wax that that didn’t self-polish. So, we had to manhandle the electric floor polisher all over the room. 

NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!! Said the first floor! We want you to take out all of the equipment and furniture, put it in the hallway and re-do the bare room, and then move all of the equipment and furniture back into the room. None of our arguments were good enough. So, we complied with the demand. 

By the time we were done a second time, we were hot, stinky, and mad as wet hens. Naturally, we did what any red-blooded Air Force guy would do. We commiserated about the cruel way we were treated, brooded and then climbed in Old Blue and hit the strasse to partake of the elixir of life.

We ended up down in an unknown area of Berlin, off the beaten GI path, and wandered into a small bar. The only other patrons were Oriental, but they were speaking excellent German! Bill turned to Vic and me and whispered, “Omigod…the Japs have invaded Berlin!” Vic struck up a conversation with them and found out that they were part of the families of the Japanese Embassy in Berlin who were left behind when the embassy staff left for Japan.

We finally herded Old Blue back to base as dawn was breaking, just in time to get into our fatigues and get ready for the second day of work before the three-day break. Something we ate must have made us kind of sleepy so we laid down in our bunks to rest our eyes.

The next thing we knew, the whole room seemed to be full of Air Cops, and we were nearly ˝ hour late for work!!!

We were escorted to work where we slunk in unobtrusively and attempted to do our job, in spite of what was the start of a monstrous hangover!

At the end of the shift, we were all standing tall in front of Sgt. Rufus T. Standard. For a man who never swore, he sure made us feel small! He said he understood why we were upset but he was extremely angry about why we responded the way we did. As I recall, through the fog of a great headache and a backside that seemed to be a lot smaller than when I reported for duty, we were restricted to base for two weeks!

The next day, Sgt. Joe Kinel said to Bill, “Hey Chance, Cap’n McEwen wants to see you!” When Bill came back, we all gathered around and asked him what happened. He said that the Captain asked him what Bill thought should happen. Bill said he clasped his fatigue hat in both hands, fell to his knees and said, “Oh please sir! Don’t make a day wienie out of me!”

We were still restricted to base when I got a letter from my stateside girlfriend. She was working as a nurse at the Frankfurt Military Hospital and was planning on visiting me in Berlin over our next break!

How Walt Mercer saved my bacon on that visit is another story.

© 2005, The Berlin Island Association

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