Basic training at Fort Meade, Md., during the Korean War

The Korean War started on my 21st birthday, and in March 1951 I was at the Induction Center at Fort George G. Meade, Md. It was total chaos and the worst part of my service, as I was not sent to Korea. After about a week of testing I was assigned to the newly reactivated 66th Engineer Topographic Corps, where I would remain until return to the States for discharge.
Our company was unique in that we all remained together (other than temporary duty for specialized schools) for our entire active duty. Other than the officers (World War II veterans), we were 80 percent draftees. Of the four platoons (headquarters, survey, photomapping and reproduction) the latter three were composed of men who were specially trained for their jobs in civilian life.
Our basic training consisted of eight weeks of infantry basic and six weeks of engineer basic. The latter was especially interesting as we learned to rig and defuse booby traps, as well as blow up things with TNT and use engineering power tools. We went to Fort Belvoir, Va., to watch officers improvise a road. Our training cadre were actual 1st Cav veterans of that first frozen hell in Korea, and they deserved our respect. Most were also World War II vets.
After basic, we were assigned to VII Corps and went to participate in “Operation Southern Pines” at Fort Bragg, N.C. Then we shipped overseas on the “Alexander Patch” in October 1951. We were stationed at Grenadier Kaserne in Zuffenhausen, Germany. (near Stuttgart) and participated in “Grande Alliance II,” winter maneuvers and many alerts.

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