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United States Army
Active Duty 1984 - 1985

My time in the Army... and Reforger 85

"In this blog I am going to tell about some of my adventures during my two years active duty in the Army. In 1985 I participated in one of the biggest practice drills the United States military ever undertook. It was called Operation Central Guardian - REFORGER '85 (which stood for Return of Forces to Germany)."

"These two years (1984-1985) went by faster than any other twenty-four month period that I can recall in my lifetime. At the time, I'm sure it didn't seem like it was going so fast."

I was saving my "Leave Time" in order to collect the pay at the end of my service and counting the days. Actually, I didn't count the days until I got down to the last two months, but I used that accrued leave pay to buy a 1972 Porsche 914 for $2,400 and I took a really memorable road trip from Colorado back home to Alabama. The road trip only lasted four days, but it stands out in my mind. I only made two stops, one in Missouri to see my Army friend Conner, who got out before I did, and one in Nashville, Tennessee to see my friend Steve.

Me at Ft. Lee 1984
Ft. Lee, Virginia 1984

My First Sergeant was a really cool guy. He allowed me to take a quick weekend trip home for a visit by filling out the paperwork to request leave, but not turning in so long as I returned safely to work on Monday. I hitched a ride with a couple that were driving to Atlanta. My friend had a brand new BMW and we drove from Colorado Springs to Birmingham in exactly 24 hours!

The only time in my life that I had something stolen from my checked luggage during a commercial airline flight, was on a flight from Birmingham, Alabama back to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The only item taken was the camera with which I had taken the photos during Reforger. All of the pictures I had taken toward the end of Reforger were lost.

These few pictures in the next pages survived because the discs had been dropped off at the PX before my quick trip home. I can't for the life of me recall what kind of camera it was, but it had digital discs instead of film. I do remember that it was pretty expensive for the time and it may have been one of the first digital cameras. I'm sure that the discs are like 8-Track tapes (no longer available or usable).

Crossing the Atlantic

Two Weeks at Sea! ...And a Message in a Bottle

I was one of the twelve Security Escorts (6 of us from Ft. Carson and 6 guys from Ft. Benning) that accompanied our equipment coming back from Germany - it took two weeks to cross the Atlantic due to bad weather we had to go toward Africa for three days in the opposite direction to avoid a storm because our ship was so heavy-laden with equipment.

me crossing the Atlantic on a Super Cargo
An Army soldier on a ship, wearing a Greek sailors' cap, "what was I thinking?"

We went from Bremerhaven, Germany to Savannah, Georgia where we off loaded all the Ft. Benning equipment. It took several days to off load. Then we went from Savannah, Georgia to Port Arthur/Beaumont, Texas. It seems like it took us ten days to unload all of the equipment and reload it on rail cars for the train ride home to Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"After dropping the ship's pilot (that navigated the English Channel for us) off at Pilot's Point, England, we all popped bottles of champagne to celebrate."

I scribbled a quick note that read, "if you find this message drop me line to let me know" and included my name and home address. Stuffed it in the empty champagne bottle, recorked it and flung it over the starboard side.

message in a bottle
My message in a bottle found its way to Denmark

Six months later, my mother called me to say a letter arrived from Denmark. A guy found the bottle washed up on shore and wrote a short letter to let me know he found it. He also drew a map to show where it was found. The guy was a 24 year-old pig farmer.

My time on Active Duty in the Army was not just one big adventure. It was a series of many smaller escapades. The two years were jam-packed with non-stop activity that just seemed to always be filled with action. No sooner had one event ended, than the next one would begin.

"I guess I should start at the beginning before I start telling these short stories."

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