Cold War News and Notes pp. 7-10
Book Review by Denise Clark pp. 10-12
“Constabulary Constables” pp. 12-17
By Jim Dollar, LTC, USA (Ret.)
“Chaplain Charles Watters: Sky Soldier Priest
in Vietnam” pp. 18-19
The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Cold War Times, the Cold War Museum, the Cold War Veterans Association, and/or their respective Board of Directors. As is the case with all history, the history of the Cold War is subject to some degree of interpretation.
About the Cold War Museum
Founded in 1996 by Francis Gary Powers, Jr. and John C. Welch, the Cold War Museum is dedicated to preserving Cold War history and honoring Cold War Veterans.
For more information: Cold War Museum, P.O. Box 178, Fairfax, VA 22030 Ph: 703-273-2381
Dear Members and Friends of the Cold War Museum.
Over the past five years the Cold War Museum has made great strides in honoring Cold War Veterans and preserving Cold War history. However, the work has just begun and we need to continue our fundraising efforts in order to raise the millions of dollars necessary to build the Museum. I am writing to provide you with a brief update on the Museum’s activities and to ask that you consider making a year-end tax-deductible donation to the Cold War Museum's general fund. A donation to our general fund will allow us to hire a fundraising firm to assist us in implementing our National Fundraising campaign. If you know of any family members, friends, or colleagues that would like to make a donation, please let them know that their support is welcomed.
We are at a critical stage of our development. In January 2002, the Cold War Museum renewed its affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. As a result we have pledges of support for artifact loans from Smithsonian Air and Space, American History, National Portrait, and US Postal museums. The Cold War Museum is in negotiations with Fairfax County Park Authority to locate at the former Nike Missile Base in Lorton, Virginia in the near future. We are working with the Fort Meade Museum and the Historical Electronics Museum in Maryland, the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, the Florida International Museum, and the Leipzig Contemporary History Museum in Germany to temporarily display some of our artifacts.
Annually the Bulgaria, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, and Slovakian Embassies co-host a reception for the Museum. The past reception to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the end of the Cold War was held at the Embassy of Slovakia. Our next reception will be held at the Romanian Embassy on December 17, 2002 and will include the
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 4 support of the Embassies of Germany and Poland. As a result of International support, the Museum has acquired several important artifacts, including an East German admiral's uniform, a warning sign from Checkpoint Charlie, a Stasi prison door, and a piece of the “Iron Curtain.”
The mobile exhibit on the U-2 Incident, the “Spies of Washington Tour,” and our book signing receptions continue to generate interest and support. In March 2002, the mobile exhibit returned from a one-year display at the Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida and is currently displayed at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin through March 2003. The educational “Spies of Washington Tour” continues to sell out regularly. Our tours now include a stop at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. Visit www.spytour.com for more information.
Our latest book signing reception took place at the National Archives on September 17, 2002 and featured author John Fahey who wrote, “Licensed to Spy” about his involve-ment with the United States Military Liaison Mission (USMLM). As a result of our efforts, in July 2002 the Commonwealth of Virginia allocated a $28,000 matching grant for the Cold War Museum. We are grateful to the Springfield/Lorton VFW (Post 7327) who in response to our efforts donated $20,000 to the Museum in August 2002.
Please consider making a donation to the Cold War Museum's general fund. Your gift will help us plan for the new year and the new physical location. Tax-deductible contributions and artifact donations to the Museum will ensure that future generations will remember Cold War events and personalities that forever altered our understanding of national security, international relations, and personal sacrifice for one's country. Please help spread the word about the Museum. Together we can make this vision a reality. If you should have any questions or want additional information, please contact:
Cold War Times continues its commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis in this issue with an in-depth discussion of the air defense efforts to protect South Florida from air attacks from Cuba. This article comes courtesy of Charles Carter, a former Nike missile crewman with the U.S. Army and veteran of the Crisis. After attending his presentation at the 2002 Conference of Army Historians back in August, I requested his permission to reprint his paper and he agreed. Thanks to Charles we have both a veteran’s perspective on these events as well as a historian’s analysis.
Our second feature article was written by a friend of mine, Lt. Col. Jim Dollar, USA (Ret.), about his days in the U.S. Constabulary. In the first years following the end of World War II, the U.S. Army in Europe rapidly demobilized and transformed itself from a combat force into a police / occupation force in Germany and Austria. As the Cold War was just starting to emerge during this time, the Constabulary Troopers were among the first Cold Warriors.
In recognition of those times when the Cold War got hot, Cold War Times prints its first article about the Vietnam War. On 19 November 1967, U.S. Army Chaplain / Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Watters of the 173rd Airborne Brigade earned the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously while saving wounded soldiers in a fierce battle in the Dak To province. This being the 35th Anniversary of his death, I have included this article in his honor. Look for more articles about Vietnam and the Korean War in future issues of CWT.
Lastly, I would like to congratulate our sister organization, Cold War Veterans Association, on the exciting changes taking place in their organization. CWVA is expanding and is now organized geographically. Check out their website to learn more about them.
In search of… Hello, I am Billie Roys - wife of retired SSgt. Robert L. Roys. My husband was in Korea 1954-1955 in the 5th Air Force Transportation Squadron. He has told me about the 5th Mule Train, and I have been looking for that patch...I would like to have a cap made with it on it for him. Can anyone there help me? Thanks .........Billie
Justice delayed is justice denied. Despite very strong Congressional sentiment supporting the Cold War Service Medal, the Secretary of Defense has declined to authorize it at this time. In their press release, the DoD stated that during the Cold War, "commanders had a variety of awards" to recognize the service and sacrifice of service men and women.
Service during the 1950s and 1960s had few awards that field commanders could bestow. Excluding Korean War and Vietnam service, and the few "expeditions" recognized by the AFEM, field commanders had little authority to recognize soldiers, sailors, and airmen. In the case of the Army, only two decorations (other than Good Conduct Medal, which was ubiquitous) for individuals were generally available prior to 1966 - the Army Commendation Medal and the Soldier's Medal. The Soldier's Medal called for such a degree of heroism that it was seldom awarded. The Army Commendation Medal was also scarce, and the Legion of Merit was reserved for field grade officers. We would be interested in knowing just how many ARCOMs and unit commendations were awarded, say, during the period 1955-60. There was no unique medal for Cold War service per se, and again DoD has chosen to turn a blind eye to the "service and sacrifice" of that period.
Pentagon bureaucrats always fall back on that old chestnut, "The Cold War Recognition Certificate." The position of the Cold War Veterans Association is that the certificate is inadequate recognition for at least 3 reasons:
1) It is not a military award. By law, the certificate is also given to civilians with any federal service, even if that service was not in support of the Cold War. Thus, a clerk in the Bureau of Land management or the Fish and Wildlife Service during the Cold War period received the same recognition as a soldier in the Fulda Gap or on the Korean DMZ.
2)It does not conform to usual standards of military recognition. Cold War service frequently entailed hardship, sacrifice, risk, and even loss of life. The significance of the Cold War has been verbally acknowledged by our national leaders, yet no other period of service
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 7 was recognized by a certificate in lieu of a service medal.
3) The "certificate" is cheapened by the promiscuous nature of its eligibility. It is given to patriots and draft dodgers alike. A person who refused to serve in uniform, yet managed to get a seasonal job at the post office can qualify for this "honor." Thus, it is no honor at all.
Many veterans of the Cold War refuse to apply for the "Cold War Recognition Certificate." Some have returned theirs - more may do so. We call on Congress to enact a law creating the Cold War Service Medal, and to abolish the "recognition certificate" program.Let's limit the recognition to those who actually served.
Cold War News and Notes JULIETT 484 IS A STAR FOR ALL SEASONS
From John Martin
PROVIDENCE, RI: In response to a tide of visitors and growing interest from across the country, the Russian Submarine Museum will remain open to the public and available for private tours and events through the entire winter. Juliett 484, the former Soviet nuclear cruise missile submarine and star of Harrison Ford’s movie K-19: The Widowmaker, opened Aug. 5 to enthusiastic crowds. The submarine is moored at Collier Point Park, Providence, where visitors will experience a unique look at Russian naval culture and technology aboard the 300-foot long, diesel-powered Cold War veteran. “Soviet submarines were designed to operate in waters colder than the worst New England winters,” said USS Saratoga Museum Foundation president Frank Lennon. “Our engineering staff is restoring onboard systems to make Juliett comfortable for visitors regardless of the season, allowing us to operate year-round. Even though Juliett 484 is floating in Narragansett Bay, we’re essentially still a museum. And like most museums, once you’re inside, cold weather isn’t a factor. We are happy to say, we’re ready to accommodate visitors 12 months a year.”
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 8 AMERICA’S ORIGINAL NUCLEAR SUBMARINE HEROES
VISIT RUSSIAN SUB
From John Martin
PROVIDENCE, RI: Members of the USS Nautilus Alumni Association, including some 20 men who crewed the nuclear submarine’s 1954 commissioning voyage, got their closest look ever at one of their Cold War rivals Saturday, October 5 at Providence’s Russian Submarine Museum. A group of nearly 100 members attending the organization’s annual meeting in New London, Conn., traveled to Rhode Island to tour Juliett 484, the Russian nuclear cruise missile submarine open to the public at Collier Point Park.
Other Nautilus veterans were aboard the submarine for its historic 1958 mission to the North Pole. Juliett 484, commissioned in 1965, was one of the Soviet Union’s Cold War responses to Nautilus and other Western military warships. Now the 300-foot diesel-powered former nuclear cruise missile submarine is a museum run by the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation.
In July of 1951 Congress authorized construction of the world's first nuclear powered submarine. President Harry S Truman laid her keel on June 14, 1952 at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Conn. Nautilus was launched on January 21, 1954 and on September 30, 1954, became the first commissioned nuclear powered ship in the United States Navy.
On July 23, 1958, Nautilus departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii under top-secret orders to conduct "Operation Sunshine," the first crossing of the north pole by a ship. At 11:15 pm on August 3, 1958, Nautilus’s second Commanding Officer, Cmdr. William R. Anderson, USN, announced to his crew "For the world, Our Country, and the Navy - the North Pole." With 116 men aboard, Nautilus had accomplished the "impossible," reaching the geographic North Pole 90 degrees north. More information on the USS Nautilus is available at http://www.ussnautilus.org
An Indefinite Period Now Available
Just in time for the 40th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Patricia Feeney’s historical memoir of her life at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during 1962 has now been published by Infinity Publishing and available for purchase. It is 182 pages in length with 20 pages of graphic art, and is priced at $14.95. An Indefinite Period may be purchased online at www.buybooksontheweb.com . An excerpt from her book was printed in the May 2002 issue of Cold War Times.
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 9Cold War Submarine Memorial Dedication Scheduled for December 6
Charleston, South Carolina: The new Cold War Submarine Memorial is scheduled to be dedicated on 6 December 2002. This stirring new memorial to Cold War submariners is located at the entrance to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum which boasts the WWII aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the diesel-electric submarine USS Clamagore, destroyer USS Laffey and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham.
The Cold War Submarine Memorial features the actual sail (conning tower) and rudder of the nuclear ballistic missile submarine USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN 644) and contoured landscaping to depict a surfaced submarine underway returning from a deterrence patrol.
A series of seven educational stations will inform visitors about the Cold War and the role of submarines in it. An eighth station will serve as a memorial to those submariners lost at sea.
Charleston, South Carolina is a most appropriate home for the Cold War Submarine Memorial as the city has had a long history with submarines. In 1864, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank the Union navy warship USS Housatonic. During the Cold War, nuclear ballistic missile and attack submarines operated from Charleston. The first SSBN USS George Washington sallied forth from the city on the very first nuclear deterrence patrol. Visit www.cwsmf.org for more information.
USS Liberty Video Now Available
On 8 June 1967, Israel attacked the USS Liberty, a spy ship cruising off the Sinai coast. Israel has always claimed it was a tragic accident based on mistaken identification of the ship. the US government publicly accepted this explanation. Yet for 35 years, the Liberty's survivors have insisted that the attack was intentional.
The new BBC film, "USS Liberty, Dead in the Water" reveals the truth behind the seemingly inexplicable incident -- and how nuclear war in the Middle East was averted only at
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 10 the last minute. The film which has aired in England and Europe is NOW AVAILABLE in the U.S.! It can be ordered directly with check/money order from:
USS LIBERTY FRIENDS
P.O. BOX 373164
Satellite Beach, FL 32937
Price includes shipping and handling
CWT Book Review
A True Russian Experience // Reviewed by Denise M. Clark
Russian Experiences: Life in the Former USSR and Post-Soviet Russia
Was the Russia we grew up fearing truly a monster in disguise, or a country struggling through various leaders and methods to find itself? Russian Experiences: Life in the Former USSR and Post-Soviet Russia is an eye-opening discovery of the true Russia: the Russia of the ‘suburbs’; the Russia of the common worker; the Russia of the struggling family. No political grandstanding in this book, no. This is a story of its people. Its heart and soul.
Unless one went through it, experienced it, and lived it, one can’t ever really know. But a man known as ‘The Raven’ lived through it, and with the help of co-writer Marie Claire, he tells his story of growing up in this Russia to the world. But Russian Experiences is so much more than just a story, a riveting story of trial and labor, and of rebirth. It is, in its essence, a moving and dramatic tale of one man’s quest for freedom; not just in a physical sense, but an emotional one as well.
The Raven was born into a period of turmoil. The economy was poor, even to the point of many teetering on the brink of privation. Proper education and training for many jobs and positions in the medical field were below standard and proper supplies, not only those needed for basic living, but more important, medical supplies were sadly lacking as well. No luxuries of supermarkets, shopping malls, fashion stores and private transportation. Because of a lack of proper medical facilities and care, The Raven suffered a hearing loss accompanied by a speech impediment as a young child, thereby forcing him from early
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 11 childhood to deal with prejudice because of his handicap. For decades, the Russian ideal of perfection allowed no compassion for those suffering from physical or emotional handicaps, almost an ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. And so, ‘The Raven’ was practically ignored, existing without really existing in the eyes of society.
The Raven grew up in Baku City, the capital of Azerbaijan. His life there was by no means easy, and compared to standards most Americans take for granted, at or near what could be considered the poverty level. Because of the conflicts and recurring strife between native Armenians and Azerbaijan natives, he and his brother were unable to attend school for long stretches of time.
Ultimately, The Raven and his family left Baku, where they had lived all their lives, to move to a region around Moscow where The Raven and his family hoped for a better life, a better opportunity for education and employment. There The Raven continued his education, yet even on the outskirts of Moscow. The Raven struggled to gain the education he desired, one that would enable him to rise above the poverty and narrow-mindedness of many of Russia’s inhabitants. Despite an interrupted education, growing political strife and military tensions, The Raven pursued his goals and ultimately achieved his degree.
Russian Experiences is a wonderful book that tells the story of one man’s rise above the restrictive and difficult conditions surrounding him. The story is not only well written from a technical standpoint, but it is also a very personal saga of the history and transition of one of the mightiest nations in the world and the consequences felt by its complicated political history. Through the eyes of ‘The Raven’ and Marie Claire, a reader of this tale begins to understand there is much behind the façade of Russia, one rarely seen or talked about on such a personal level. As a result, this book could and should be used as a primer for one to gain a better understanding of what Russia was and is all about -- a book told through the eyes of one man who fought against prejudice and poor living conditions to gain an identity he could be proud of. Russian Experiences is an excellent format for anyone to utilize, from either a social or personal perspective, in order to experience and learn about Russia's history, culture, and the indomitable spirit of many of its people. In its presentation of both history and humanity, the authors have managed to cover a brief though thorough bird’s eye view of how the Russia of today developed; through the growing pains and uncertainty following World War Two, through the difficult and tense years that encompassed the Cold War and finally to the breakdown of the Soviet Union.
The co-authors have written a concise, fast reading semi-biographical story in such a simple and painless writing style as to make pleasurable though serious reading for any student of political or cultural history. A unique approach, in employing the anonymity of ‘The Raven’ and his co-writer telling the story, offers what many might consider an unusual though
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 12
very effective method to encourage an understanding of one of the mightiest nations in the world through the eyes of one of its citizens. Written in a smoothly descriptive style and utilizing rich though simple language, this book offers something for a wide range of readers, from high school students to adults.
CONSTABULARY CONSTABLES BY JIM DOLLAR, Lt. Col., USA (Ret.) DATELINES: --------->December 7, 1941–A Day of Infamy----Pearl Harbor
--------->May 7, 1945–Germany Capitulates-----Europe Rejoices
--------->August 7, 1945–Truman Shakes the Rafters–Atomic Disaster
If you were in Las Vegas and three sevens came up on the slot machine, you would win a bucket of change. If you were President Roosevelt, General Eisenhower and President Truman on the above dates, you would be facing changes that would affect the entire world and all the people on this earth and praying for the luck of three 7s.
After World War II ended in Europe, major decisions were required immediately. As the war with Japan was still ringing with bloodcurdling sounds in the Pacific and all the islands, the big decision had to be made as to which personnel from Europe would go to help General MacArthur. Next, what to do with all the thousands of displaced persons roaming all over Europe and how to get Germany back to normal.
But the major question, as far as the American GI was concerned, was when do I get to go home and who is going to Japan?
The answers to all these questions and the actions taken by all parties could well have been the beginning of the Cold War Era of the Twentieth Century. But, when President Truman shook the rafters of the world’s structure on August 7, 1945 dropping the first atomic bomb on Japan, the major problem of shifting troops from Europe to Asia was mostly solved.
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 13
Being in the army on all three of the above dates brought a future for myself and millions of others that we would have never imagined. Having gotten discharged in late 1945, my lot for the next nine months was civilian life. It wasn’t to my liking so I returned to the army. My next overseas assignment was to the U. S. Constabulary in Germany.
Having fought with the 315th Infantry, 79th Infantry Division from Utah Beach to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia and being wounded twice, it was obvious that the next three years with the Constabulary was going to be a different assignment with many challenging missions. It would be my second military overseas assignment in the European Theater in less than three years. On our sea voyage from New York to Bremerhaven, Germany, it was a cold, rough Atlantic Ocean that was either mad at the troops or at Neptune. The waves were high and mighty.
Picking up a new friend, who was also a 1st Lieutenant by the name of Bob Glaser, made the trip a little more enjoyable. Bob was an energetic soul who was all soldier. He wore the Combat Infantry badge,as I did, so, we had something in common.
Neither of us knew who or what the U. S. Constabulary was or what our assignments would bring into our lives. We landed at dusk on a cold December day in 1946. We traveled by train to Darmstadt, Germany to the replacement depot for processing and final assignment
to our units. Bob was assigned to the 14th Constabulary Squadron in Darmstadt and I ended up with the 15th Constabulary Squadron in Schwetzingen, Germany.
We were now members of the U. S. Constabulary, commonly known as “The Circle C Cowboys.” The motto was MOBILITY, VIGILANCE, JUSTICE. As we walked down a quiet street on that snowy Christmas Eve, 1946, it was a lonesome feeling in a strange land to be away from family and friends back home. But this was the army and absences like these could be expected. The one dim street light gave us an eerie feeling.
The United States Constabulary was a superior, elite element of the United States Army, serving as soldiers, policemen, diplomats and Cold War Warriors. We had our problems and we knew it would take time to solve them with discipline, leadership and a lot of hard work.
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 14 My first assignment was to “B “ Troop commanded by Captain Veachel A. Dennison, an old calvary trooper who rode for the army as a trick rider in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The four line troops in the squadron took turns in operating the border crossing point at Mannheim, Germany. It was the main southern crossing between France and Germany. There were many problems of smuggling contraband items, narcotics and anything else to make a buck. Mannheim was the venereal disease Capital of the world as far as we were concerned. Displaced persons still roamed Germany like ants at a Tennessee picnic.
Controlling the German and Austrian borders, operating checkpoints, supervising traffic control with speed traps and maintaining law and order was our job. The Germans called us the Blitz Polizei. We had all the modes of transportation. General Ernie Harmon, the first Commanding General of the Constabulary had his own plane and train. We had horses, jeeps, tanks, M8 armored cars, motorcycles and Hitler’s private yacht.
Our squadron was located in a former German barracks (called kasernes) between Heidelberg and Mannheim on the Rhine River. It was outside of Mannheim on this road that General Patton was injured in an automobile accident and later died. As this road was in our area, I passed this spot many times.
A priority for new officers assigned to the Constabulary was to attend the U. S. Constabulary School in Sonthofen, Germany The school was the former Adolf Hitler Schule in the Upper Allgau region of Bavaria.
The school was commanded by Colonel Harold G. Holt. Later he was to be my commanding officer in the 15th Constabulary Regiment. It was a different kind of military school due to the subjects it taught on German History and, Geopolitics, the Weimar Republic and the many subjects pertaining to our mission. Getting involved with the German government their people and their customs created many different situations, some interesting and some distasteful. We survived.
My old friend, Bob Glaser was in the same class. We started on 7 February 1947 and graduated on 6 March 1947. Geopolitics was a favorite subject of most of the class.
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 15 Returning to “B “ Troop, 15th Squadron, Captain Dennison informed me that he would be returning to the states in a few months and that I would take over the troop. On 19 June 1947, I assumed command of the troop. The problems were the same but things were getting
better. The men had improved their training. Esprit de Corps was more evident and morale was higher. Discipline was much better.
In August 1947, there was more reorganization throughout the Constabulary. The 15th Squadron was put in a sleep status and our personnel was scattered in the reassignment of units. My next assignment was as a platoon leader in “B “ Troop, 72nd Constabulary Squadron in Boblingen outside of Stuttgart, Germany. We had a full complement of officers, all 1st Lieutenants. Colonel Holt, former Constabulary School Commandant, was our new commander of the 15th Constabulary Regiment.
The regiment was required to have a football team and they needed players. Another officer and I decided that we would try out. We did and made the team. His name was Bob Shadle and he had played B Squad at West Point against two of Army’s greatest players, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Bob played left guard and I played center. Our left tackle, Bob Smith, was from Texas A & M and our star player was a 275 pound fullback from Oklahoma State, Bill Crimmins. The right guard was John Valentic from Pennsylvania.
General Harmon had returned to the states in May, 1947 and Major General Withers E. Burress had assumed command of the Constabulary. When we played the U.S. Constabulary team on their home field, General Burress and Colonel Holt made a wager of $500 but the Colonel didn’t tell the 15th Regimental team about it. Due to a blocked punt and a safety for their side, we lost the game 2 to 0. Come Monday morning, myself and the other two officers on that team were standing in front of Colt Holt and learned about the bet and his loss of $500 as well as some army kind words. We never lost another game until we played the 2nd Constabulary Regiment for the European Championship. We lost that game 7 to 0 thanks to an army All-American by the name of Dale Hall. C’est la Guerre!
From September through December 1947, we were moving officers from troop to troop to maintain a balance. My final assignment with the 14th Squadron was as Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Service Troop. We spent a lot of time in Grafenwohr at the huge
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 16 Army Training Area. One of our choice assignments was to be attached to the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) for a three-month period as a reconnaissance squadron. We had a large sign of an eye and an ear painted above the 1st Division insignia and identified it as “The Eyes and Ears of the Big Red One.” The U. S. Constabulary and the 1st Infantry Division were the only combat troops left in the European Theater at that time.
In August, 1948, my final assignment came as a complete surprise. Our squadron commander was notified that he was being transferred to Headquarters, U. S. Constabulary to become the Headquarters Commandant and he was taking me with him to command the Commanding Geraral’s Honor Guard with the 820th Military Police Troop. Major General I. D. White, another of General Patton’s proteges, had assumed command of the constabulary from General Burress.
My happiness with the assignment didn’t last long. Having been in the new job for only three days, we drew an honor guard assignment on a Sunday morning. Senator Chan Gurney, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was visiting the headquarters for a briefing visit. We had to escort the General to the airport, near Stuttgart, to bring the Senator back to the Constabulary Headquarters.
From what I had learned in three days, the 820th was a shambles and far from being what an honor guard should be. After arriving at the airport, General White inspected the honor guard and all hell broke loose. He hit one of the motorcycle tires with his riding crop and said:
As the inspection continued, he kept asking “ Why this? Why that?’” And my replies were the same, “No Excuse, Sir.”
I could tell he was mad because of the senator’s visit and he didn’t get to play golf that morning. I could see my career going down the tubes and I had to make a stand. I called his aide-de-camp over and requested permission to talk to the general before the senator arrived. The general motioned me over to where he was standing.
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 17 I approached the gereral, saluted and the conversation went as follows: “General White, I know you are unhappy with the honor guard and it is below your standards but I have only had command of this unit for three days and there are many problems to be solved. It took Jesus Christ Seven days to build the earth and I cannot fix all the problems and rebuild this unit in three days!” I saluted and returned to my post.
The senator arrived OK and the honor guard went well. When the general returned to the headquarters, he called his Assistant Chief of Staff G 1 and gave him hell because he was unhappy with me, my clothes and the troops, the vehicles and the motorcycle tires. At his Monday morning staff meeting, he was still upset. He told the Headquarters Commandant that I had 30 days to make this outfit #1 and that every staff officer, regardless of his rank was to contact me and give us maximum support. The next thing I knew, Captains to full Colonels came calling to fulfill our needs and help us to improve the situation. .
The first thing I did was give everyone a short leave as they had been working 15 to 18 hours a day. We put new motors in the jeeps, repainted all the vehicles, got everyone new clothes that were tailored to fit and started a new training program. Oh yes, we got new tires for the motorcycles, jeeps and armored cars. At the end of 30 days, we were the best. General White was happy and from then on we did our job in a superb manner and earned the respect of the entire organization. The troopers we kept on the general’s train were the very elite. Remaining in that job until returning home a year later, the General and I became good friends. After returning from 18 months in Korea, it was my honor to serve on his staff again at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas in 1954 when he commanded the United States Fourth Army.
My three-year tour with the United States Constabulary was one of the highlights of my military career. It was a Cold War Blue Plate Special for education, experience and furthering my army career. We exemplified Mobility, Vigilence and Justice.
Whether you are fighting hot wars or cold wars, the 18th Century philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau had it right:
“WAR IS NOT A RELATION BETWEEN MAN AND MAN BUT BETWEEN STATE AND STATE, AND INDIVIDUALS ARE ENEMIES ACCIDENTALLY.”
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 18
Chaplain Charles Watters: Sky Soldier Priest in Vietnam
Bryan J Dickerson
Thirty-five years ago this November, U.S. Army Chaplain Major and Roman Catholic priest Father Charles J. Watters saved the lives of several soldiers in fierce fighting in the Dak To province, earning him one of the few Congressional Medals of Honor ever awarded to chaplains...and costing him his own life.
Charles J. Watters was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on 17 January 1927. He attended Seton Hall University and Immaculate Conception Seminary. Following his ordination as a priest on 30 May 1953, Father Watters served in several parishes in North Jersey. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus Catholic men’s service organization. In 1962, he joined the New Jersey Air National Guard as a chaplain and two years later went on active duty with the U.S. Army in that capacity. Ordered to Vietnam in 1966, Father Watters volunteered to serve with the 2nd Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. When his tour of duty ended in July of 1967 with the “Sky Soldiers” as they were called, he volunteered to stay with his unit another six months.
Despite the hardships and the dangers, Father Watters accompanied his soldiers into the field during their combat operations through jungles and rice paddies. He even participated in combat parachute assault. And he did all this unarmed.
In November of 1967 --- four months after Father Watters voluntarily extended his tour --- the 173rd Airborne Brigade was ordered to clear an area of the Dak To province near the Cambodian border of North Vietnamese Army units. The fighting was intense, to say the least. Before assaulting Hill 875, Father Watters said Mass for his soldiers.
On 17 November, Father Watters’s battalion assaulted Hill 875 which the NVA had turned into fortress with underground tunnels and bunkers. As they reached the top of one of the hill’s ridges, units of 2nd Battalion came under heavy hostile fire. After two unsuccessful assaults, the American soldiers formed a defensive perimeter and fought off the NVA.
Throughout the battle, Father Watters was in the thick of the fighting and acted in total
Cold War Times Nov / Dec 2002 p. 19
disregard for his own safety. While under hostile fire, he gave aid to the wounded, and administered Last Rites to the dying. Prior to the second assault, Father Watters rescued two wounded Americans caught between the firing lines. Later, Father Watters left the American perimeter three times to rescue more wounded soldiers. While giving aid to another wounded soldier, Father Watters himself was mortally wounded. He died on Hill 875 in Vietnam on 19 November 1967 at the age of 40, having saved the lives of many American
soldiers during that battle.
Other units of the 173rd Airborne Brigade eventually linked up with the embattled 2nd Battalion and Hill 875 was secured. This marked the end of the Dak To battle.
Two years later, Father Watters was posthumously awarded our nation’s highest award for bravery in combat: the Congressional Medal of Honor. In doing so, Father Watters stands in elite company. He is the only chaplain who was a native of New Jersey to earn the
medal. He is just one of five U.S. Army chaplains and one of only four Catholic priests to have ever been awarded the medal. Of those four Catholic chaplains, Navy Chaplain Father Joseph O’Callahan of the aircraft carrier USS Franklin earned his during World War Two. The other three --- Father Watters, Father Angelo Liteky of the U.S. Army’s 199th Infantry Brigade and Navy Chaplain Father Vincent Capodanno of the 1st Marine Division --- all earned their medals during the fall of 1967 for rescuing wounded Americans in the midst of battles in Vietnam. Like Father Watters, Father Capodanno earned his posthumously.
In addition receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, Father Watters has been memorialized by the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The building that is home to the Center is named “Watters Hall” in his honor.