The End of My Army Career

I went to Europe, a newly wed, looking forward to my first assignment with TAREX, as Operations Sergeant, and more or less resigned to completing 20 years of service. I left, 19 months later, with a fine son, and totally fed up with the Army.

In the service, one runs into some of the biggest jerks from time to time and TAREX Europe, an office with 10-12 people, had two of them out of a total of about 10 I ran into in all my years of service. MSG Doug Guernsey was one of them. He was NCOIC of TAREX Europe and wore civilian clothes every day instead of a uniform for no reason having anything to do with the mission, but rather, if you'll forgive the pop psychology, because, I think, the guy was ashamed of himself, and his job, and didn't want anyone on the street to know he was an NCO in the Army. But that's just one person's opinion. This guy thought he was exceedingly clever, and he complained all the time about everything and everybody, and how dumb they were compared to him. One of his funnier complaints was how he carefully explained how all the cars in a line ought to start going forward exactly at the same time, when the light changed to green to assure maximum efficiency. He used to drone on for hours about this with some poor soul held captive in his office while he explained the details of his bizarre theory. He was a perfect match for the CO of the outfit, one MAJ Frank Jones, who fit the definition of a perpetually perplexed soul who drifted through life trying to figure out was going on. For guidance he leaned on Guernsey. A couple of times, when MAJ Jones wasn't around, Guernsey mocked the hell out of him and make such fun of him it made the office very uncomfortable for me. But they were a perfect pair, a couple from the pages of Alice in Wonderland, a deer caught in the headlights of life, and a fellow with a bad self image who compensated for it with compulsive egomania. That, however, is just a guess. Between them, they made it almost impossible to get anything done in the office, and I was glad to get away from them when I transferred downstairs. I was never in an outfit where the mission meant so little. The positive part of the experience was that it taught me that the mission probably wasn't all that important in the grand scheme of things, which was a good thing to learn. Better late than never, huh?

A Computing System

We got copies of all the East German postal telegrams every day, and one of the programmers (SP4 Jordan?) who worked on the 1401 downstairs came up and asked me if we could come up with a system he could design and code so that they could keep the 1401. Well this fellow, and myself, with the help and encouragement of Captain John Prokopowitz, designed a system where the analysts we had would enter information from normal telegrams that the East Germans were sending to soldiers families and had any military units, or people mentioned in them, with the unit and individual, and all the other identification information all tagged and input into the computer program, then processed and sorted down. The fellows in the office worked long and hard to complete the data entry, which must have been sheer drudgery. For a test we did 400-500 telegrams and the program this fellow wrote took about 30 hours to execute. That was the bad news. The good news is that this little test helped break out an almost complete East German Order of Battle just from these few telegrams. Nothing ever came of the program, though, so far as I know, though Prokopowitz and I did go visit some General in Heidelberg and explain how it worked to him.

Pick another assignment below, to read more of my memories...

  1. USASATC&S (Radio Traffic Analysis) -
  2. The 3rd RRU -
  3. Vint Hill Farm Station -
  4. Defense Language Institute (French) -
  5. Kagnew Station -
  6. US Army Intelligence School (Area Intelligence) -
  7. Headquarters, US Army Security Agency Europe -

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