About This Blog

This blog was originally started as a thread on the forum pages of an animal rescue site. Now it's here!

The articles you find in here are purely for entertainment (yours and mine) and (with one or two exceptions) are all tongue-in-cheek chronicles of the World (my bit, anyway) as I see it.
No disrespect is intended towards anyone unless I make a mistake and make it too obvious.

I hope you enjoy my offerings. Feedback and comments of any kind are welcome.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Americans: My first encounter

I now have three delightful ladies from  across the pond that follow my blog.

Thank you ladies, I am extremely grateful!

To honour these ladies I would like to take you on a short journey back in time to the early 80's.  1981 to be precise.  In addition to this mini-time travel miracle, I intend to carry you all to the European mainland.  Our destination today is the town of Butzbach in Germany.

Butzbach lies a little north of Frankfurt Am Main and Wiesbaden and was (maybe still is) in 1981 an American garrison town.

Before I continue, let me tell you that from 1976 to 1986 I was in the British army stationed in the Paderborn / Detmold area of Nordrhein West Fallen (further north).  I wasn't a particularly good  soldier, but I looked good in green!

Anyway, Butzbach was where my unit (I was a lance corporal at the time) would spend their annual training camp.  1981 was my first time and I wasn't looking forward to marching around the countryside with a bulky SLR-rifle (none of those nice new ones they have now) and ten times my own body weight in equipment (only slightly exaggerated) or leaping over the American assault courses (which I had been told were longer and harder than ours).

Our camp site was one of the lesser used rifle and small arms ranges about one mile or so outside of town and our first day on site was spent settling in; digging deep holes to use as loo's (no danger of leaving the seat up on a box with a hole in it Jamie), stowing away weapons and equipment and generally being kept busy by officers and senior NCO's shouting a lot.

Now I won't bore you with all the details of ev'rything we did as regards to manoeuvres, etc., it suffices to say that things, in true military fashion, did not go smoothly.

On day two I managed to sprained my ankle.
On day three both of our cooks went down with gastroenteritis.
On day four I was promoted to part-cook with all the associated duties.
Ok, so now you know that we had been there for four days already and still no sign of Americans, but don't worry ... they are about to make an entrance.

Having become "the cook", my first duty was to take a land rover and water bowser to the nearby base and  fill it up.

First of all there were the very severe looking security detail at the main gate ... they called me 'sir' and made a series of hand gestures which meant nothing to me.  When I didn't drive through the gates, one of them came back to the window and whispered (as he made a hand gesture again) "That means get yer ass on in their son".

So much for being called 'sir'!

After a series of wrong turns, I was eventually told to head for the "motor pool" water point so I could fill up.  That high pressure pump they had nearly turned our 3/4 ton bowser on it's side!

As the bowser was filling up, I chatted to a guy (PFC) who's name I forget, and he told me how his "detail" (in the motor pool) works.

Soldier A drives the vehicle into the workshop.
Soldier B checks the work order.
Soldier C positions the vehicle over the service pit.

I laughed my backside off when he told me how they change a tyre.

It's the same as above then ...

Soldier D jacks up the vehicle
Soldier E loosens the wheel nuts
Soldier F removes the wheel

It's then taken to a different work detail to inspect / inflate / dispose of.

To this day, I still don't know if they were being serious or extracting urine, but there was an awful lot of people hanging around the workshop doing very little.

After that, some of the guys went to the PX and said I should come along,  so I did.
I had the biggest hamburger I have ever seen in that place.  The coke I had came in a bucket and appeared to have an iceberg floating in it! And it was dirt cheap!!!  It really put our tatty old NAAFI* to shame.

However, I was somewhat concerned by the level of intelligence displayed by one or two of soldiers I met there. One of them had a penchant for head-butting traffic signs when he walked past them, another (who claimed he had family in Liverpool) thought that any American who had relatives in the U.K. could never visit them otherwise he would be conscripted into the British army!  There were others too, that seemed to be, for want of a better word, simple.   These early experiences of Americans left me thinking that they were all like that.

I know differently now, but at that time, it was a bit of a shock after all those Hollywood films  'n all.

There is more to tell, but my wife is home now and she's hungry.

After all these years I'm still cooking for my superiors!!!

*Navy, Army, Air Force Institute

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