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apo 259, fontenet, france Home
UNITED STATES ARMY
FONTENET ORDNANCE SUB-DEPOT
Welcome to the web site for the soldiers, family members and others who had been stationed or involved with APO 259, Fontenet, France.
I came up with this idea after looking for information regarding our base on the internet, and did not find out too much about it. So, after some time, here we are..
Now that you have found the site, please join us by registering. It's FREE! All it takes is a few minutes of your time to register. Each time you return, sign in so we know who you are when you leave a message, photos, or create a photo album. If you are willing, leave your email address in your message, as this will help someone contact you. You may contact either Charlie Blute at: firstname.lastname@example.org , or Ed Page at: WA2GDE@verizon.net.
"Please folks remember to sign in to make it easier for all"
To All Fontenet Ordnance Troops and Civilians: We have been invited to participate in a presentation by the Mayor of Fontenet, who plans to do a presentation in 2016 which will include our military post in France. He has been granted permission to use photographic images which are on this web site. Should anyone not want to have any likeness displayed please contact me. I believe these are for display to the people of Fontenet and the nearby communities.Thank you for your assistance.
If you served honorably on active duty, the Guard, Reserve, or as a DOD federal employee from Sept 2, 1945 to Dec 26, 1991, you are authorized the Cold War Recognition Certificate. Here's how to obtain your copy free:
Time Required: 15 Minutes
APO 259, Fontenet, France, was originally known as Fontenet Ordnance Depot. It was located outside of St. Jean D'Angeley (Charante Maritime) France, next to the village of Fontenet. In France, these areas are known as Departments. The base was a sub-base of Busac. We were part of COMZ USAREUR. and were vital in the maintenance of a "free Europe" during the "cold war". My personal experience of this military base entailed a tour of duty for about 2 and half years, and during that time I worked in several areas and got to know many G.I.'s and family members.
I also made many friends in St. Jean and in Fontenet, most of which I have long lost touch with. I first arrived in Fontenet in January of 1960, and was assigned to the 83rd Engineer Battalion and was housed in the "overhead" squad room. This squad room was composed of mainly clerical, supply and armory guys and were mainly below the rank of E-5. I think the highest ranking fellow there was a E-5 Buck Sgt.
He was the company clerk, but later got mustered out due to personal issues. Next to the 83rd, was the USAG building, and then the Mess Hall, and then another Engineer Company. in the center of the base there was a large open common. Facing the Common was the PX and the Commissary. Behind the Commissary, there was the cleaners and the barber shop. On the other side of the Common, there was an Ordnance Company, the Military Police Barracks, The NCO club, the Dispensary and then Headquarters. Located behind these buildings were the Polish Club, and the EM Club. I forget where the Officer's Club was...Following the road toward the main gate there was a small road to the Service Club, the Class 6 store and the Fire House. Down another road there was a road to another field and a large transportation motor pool. There was also a road to the "back gate", but this was hardly used except for official business, as far as I know. I know the school bus used it to pick up the kids for school here on the base, but that was about it. Going back into the Base at the back of the main road, there was a gym, and behind it was a baseball field, and a full sized football field. Down this back street there was a motion picture house and a chapel. Around the base there was a large perimeter road which encircled the entire base, which was enclosed by a barbed wire fence and patrolled by the infamous "Polish Guards". These Guards were armed and had vicious German shepherds with them on their tours of duty. So, you never messed with them at all.
When I first arrived at the 83rd, I was assigned to the Water Purification Officer as a clerk and assisted the Company Clerk, and namely the XO of the company. Our first Sgt., was First Sgt. Charlie Clark, who had a family in St. Jean. I worked for a Sgt. E-6 and he did training in water purification. I stayed here for some time and then got involved with coaching our post Little League team. This lead to an assignment to Special Services and management of the post gym. I did this job for a while, and when things were slow I was assigned to many a painting task, like painting the theatre, and the tennis courts. These jobs were really dull and had absolutely no relation to the involved training I had received prior to my assignment here. Which was Personnel Administration School at the Ft. Hood, NCO Academy. Oh well. Finally, after some maneuvering, I was reassigned to the Forms Department at Headquarters and then to the CIC Office where I worked for CWO3 O'Neill. This was pretty good assignment and I enjoyed it. It was a small group, only 3 of us.
I am hoping that anyone who was assigned or stationed and or lived near or on the base will contribute their memories or stories to this "blog". As I personally age, I struggle to remember all the names of people that were there during my time, but I will list some of those folks and maybe you will be one of those people who pop up...
Frank Caroke from Pennsylvania, Ray Redwine from California, Dan Robela from down around Georgia or the Carolinas, Tommy Vasiles from my home town; Beverly, Mass., Robert Smith from Oklahoma, Jack our ordnance guy at USAG, Big Gene the fireman. There was a couple of guys from around Chicago, one fellow was Nardi, his bunk mate was Redwine. Also some of the French civilians who worked with us, like "Me Too", she ran the laundry, and Guy Doree, he was my assistant and did a lot of construction things for us. There was a Jerry Ellis who reupped while I was there, I believed he married a French girl. I remember the 3 sisters, Annette, and her two sisters who married G.I.s, there last name was the french word for bird...pronounced it was whazzo...phonetically.
There are a few events that stand out for me personally from my tour, namely the night they robbed the finance office... I know Captain Steadman had to stand and face the heat on that event, and they returned him back to the base when I was on my way back to the states.
I would guess he lost his commission and/or was forced to retire after that. Danny Robala met up with me after I was married to my first wife and stayed about a week. He said that they closed the base in 1963. He said that there had been some troubles with gasoline and because of this and some difficulties with the French we were asked to leave. During my search for information about Fontenet and some of the other interests I have over there, I found information on line that indicated that indeed we were told to get out of French by DeGaulle and we packed up and fled to Bermahaven under the cover of darkness. Well, the socialist got their way I guess. This is not a political forum, so that is the end of that.
I remember St. Jean, and some of the people there. The town was a quaint place and had some nice little cafes and places to eat.
There were a couple of theaters and a large hall where they had dances and events. I remember St. Valentines Day, it was a big holiday there, and there was a week long fair and big dance at the end of the week.
I remember going to Royan in the summer and going to Bordeaux and Saintes for passes over the weekend. Saintes was a neat place to go and we found a place where they had dances on the weekends and were able to develop some friendships down there as well.
For those of you who have come in here, and remember some of the entertainment at the Enlisted Men's Club, I have been in conversation with John Gibb, of Brian Howard and the Silhouettes. They passed through Fontenet in 1961 during the months of July and August.
He is well and a grandfather and doing fine. I will put his picture up in the photography section.
So, in short, if you come across this website and have a tie to APO 259, leave a note, or you can email me email@example.com
I live in Beverly, Massachusetts and I am listed in the phone book if you want to call. I hope that I hear from some of you that are still out there. I do see some people listed in www.classmates.com, but this is a public posting and if you are not an active member, the emails do not always get to folks.
Well, it's been some time since we added much to this site, but I recently came up with the following information:
These are the units that were at Fontenet:
83rd Engineer Battalion CE Headquarters Unit (CE-Combat Engineers)
313th Signal Detachment
349th Medical Dispensary
500th Military Police Detachment
547th Ordnance Company, Field Maintenance
3983rd USA Garrison (USGA)
3988th USA Storage Site
4085th Polish Labor Service (Polish Security Guards)
I just stumbled into this great link; it has a lot of material related to what we were doing in France in those days:
If you are curious as I am, we recently got in some movies of what life was like for the French in the following:
US Welcome, US Go Home.rtf - https://docs.google.com/document/d/10nMG60dqnLyCvv9HNnb6va0fQUaOHv38LFJes6SDmKA/edit?hl=en_US&authkey=CIfnz0M
VTS_01_1.divx - https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bzz_AXbmVtKCMTU5ZjVmNTQtMjY4MS00Yjc4LWEyNzktZjYwODJlODFhODUx&hl=en_US&authkey=CODBp-UF
VTS_01_2.divx - https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bzz_AXbmVtKCN2M0OWE1NDAtYTliMy00YTgyLTkwOTAtM2M3NGEzMmRmNGM3&hl=en_US&authkey=CKL3-LwM
VTS_01_3.divx - https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0Bzz_AXbmVtKCN2RmNzBhYWYtZjhmMy00ZTQwLTllNDQtOTU3MWRmOGU5NDA3&hl=en_US&authkey=CNnX4ucI
This is a 3 part film about our relationship with the French especially during the De Gualle years. Get your popcorn and turn up the sound.
This one is in French, and it covers the history of the base since day one to today. You can go to www.google.com/translate for a French to English translator.
Here is a neat military link where you can hook up with old buddies from any where you were stationed. http://army.togetherweserved.com/army
Here is another link as of today (3/5/2013) http://usagdv.webspawner.com this site is mainly things from Verdun, but I happened to see Carlos Rios' picture in a group shot, and he played for the Fontenet Saints Basketball team, so I will put it up on the photography side.
Also we were able to come up with some pictures to post so feel free to look and remember....
I have been able to come up with names of the soldiers who were stationed at Fontenet. I do not know what they are doing today, but I am going to attempt to list anyone who we have identified to date. Please forgive any miss spellings as this list has traveled from France to me.
So here we go:
From the marriages at St. Jean and Fontenet:
Lt. John Vilncent Starch of Templeton, Massachusetts
August Phillip Schmidt, who was born in New York on May 9, 1936
Brian Patrick Darnell who was married on 1961
Johnnie B. Gatlin born in Springfield, Illinois on January 5, 1935
Victor Leslie Schroll born in Kokomo Indiania, December 1, 1937 passed November 2011 in Indiana.
Doyle Leon Russell born at Market Tree, Arkansas on June 4, 1940
Patrick James Ferguson from Chicago, Illinois ? December 10, 1940
Clifford James Hoth
Thomas Patrick Schmalowsky from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I do remember Tom. Sadly, Tom has passed.
Rodney Lee Mosher married in 1962
These are personnel of the 83rd Engineer Battalion Headquarters and Service Company from 1959-1960
Capt. Raymond L. Fleigh (recipient of the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star) Service in Viet Nam.
CWO V. S. Grimes
Sgt Major Charles B. Clark
MSgt Lawrence Evans
MSgt. J. Mathis
Sgt W. T Calaway
Sgt. D. E. Fischer
Sgt. G. Green Jr.
MSgt H. W. Snyder
Sgt G. H. Hairston
Sgt. L.J. King
Sgt. W. W. Lee
Sgt. C. R. Shipe
Sgt. J. J. Williamson (More to follow)
Frick, Johann, PFC, 83rd Engr Bn - 1959-1960
Judd, Harold Eugene, 1957-1960, married to Henriette (?) Lestrade Rook
From my correspondent in France. Messr. Mercier:
Jerzy Adolf Frey
Richard .L. Rabe
Ernest georges Treadaway
Eugène Talmage Tipton
Edward Gérald Hines
Williams Jr Forest
William H. Price
Glen Ray Dickson
John Georges Dewhurst
Charles Mack Fraley
Lawrence Frederick Gollach
Tommy Roy Guy Albert Cooper
Déon Leroy Olsen
Harold J Tanner
Harold Eugéne Judd
Edgar Hermann Pappert
Back with new information (2011). I have heard from Freddie Synder who lives in Pennsylvania and he sent up some orders and some pictures which I will put up. The orders have names which I will list. Please forgive me for the order or ranking of information, but I will try to be as orderly as possible.
Pfc George W. Farris
Pfc Rex N. Reeder
SP4 David Collins
Pfc Thomas E. Roessler
SP4 Paul D. Van Cleave
Pfc Norman G. Tonnies
Pfc James W. Fachman
Pfc Melvin H. Kressley
Pfc Freddie P. Synder
M/Sgt Herman W. Synder
SP4 Duane D. Swan
SP4 Jerrold V. Purpera
SP4 Leroy Rogers
Pfc Earl V. Dees
1st Lt. Irwin S. Rosen
Pvt. Alan L. Thibodeau
Pfc Charles G. Basford (who may have passed away).
Pfc. Larry D. Christian
SP5 Jim P. Grimes
Pfc. David F. Mc Cracken
Pvt Minuard B. Abney 756 Hwy V, Steelville, MO. 65565
SP4 Duane F. Phillips
Sgt E-5 Bennie Rogers
SP4 Leroy Rogers
SP4 Bernard F. Jones
SFC George E. Wilson
Pfc Timothy J. Cook
SGT E-5 Paul Christie
Pfe Jerry P. King
SP5 E-5 Francis L. Williams
SP5 Albert S. Bergstrom
SP4 Billy G..K. Hackler
SP4 Jerry S. Geschwender
SP4 Dareild E. Raasch
Pfc. Frank O. Byrd, Jr
Pfc. Homer G. Waller, Jr
PVT Odell De Shanzer
SP4 Richard V. Moore
SP4 Conrad R. Maryanski
Pfc. Hatch P. Wilfred
Pfc. Merrill W. Gault
SFC Edmund W. Mirka
Pfc. Thomas H. Hetherington
Pfc. Allan D. May
Pvt Benny R. West
Pfc Henry Pitcher
Pfc Robert H. Koop
SP4 Ronald L. Legan
Pfc John E. Morris
SP4 Edwin E. Matthews
Pfc Albert D. Land
Pfc. Edmond W. Ragan, Jr
SP4 Carl H. Lucas
Pfc. Walter G. Hill
Pfc James C. Smith
SP4 Cecil W. Blackburn
SP4 Manuel Cajigao, Jr
SP4 Donnie L. Dobbs
SP4 Paul C. Harwick
SP4 Paul G. Chandler
SP4 Leo J. Esmond
SP4 Paul A. Toth
MSGT Chester B. Clark (My old first shirt)
SP5 Clarence Hartzeli
Pfc Edmond W. Ragan, Jr
SP4 Paul D. Van Cleave
Pfc Michael W. Wilke
Capt. John B. Wisniewski (my old CO) passed
Pvt Leamon H. Forte
Pfc Roger L. Culbertson
Pfc. Duane F. Phillips
SP4 Thomas J. Thompson
Pfc Glen R. Foster
Pfc William J. Warner III
Pfc Harry E. Fraley
SGT E-5 James Hatcher
Pfc David Garcia
SGT E-5 Norman Booker
SGT E-5 Wade T. Calaway
SP5 John S. Scott
SP5 St. Clair I. Short
Pfc William Werdent
Pfc Carl Bertram
Pvt Cecil E. Fyffe
SFC Robert Sims
SP4 Jim P. Grimes
Pvt Glyn H. Southall
Pvt Glen E. Eppinette
Pfc Gerald L.Krienbrink
Pfc Robert E. Gaal
Pfc Ronald L. Legan
Pfc Richad D. Hail
Pvt Joseph W. Medlin
Pvt Richard M. Waggoner
Pfc Paul L. Stickley
Pfc Roger V. Butler
Pfc Herman Taylor
Pfc Albert Land
Pvt Floyd L. Carter
Pfc Jack Matthews
Pfc Charles G. Resch
Pfc Jerry L. Hyre
Pfc Kenneth Cheuvront
Pvt Charles L. Evans
Pvt Isaac F. Mc Casllin
Pvt Virgil Graham
Pfc Michael W. Wilke
Pfc George W. Farris
Pfc Doyle L. Russell
Pfc Carlos Rios
Pfc Joseph Demarco
Pvt Norman M. Andrews
Pfc Ronald R. Godsey
Pfc James E. Stewart
Pfc Donald M. Ramacher
Pfc Thomas Mahlman
Pfc Leo J. Esmond
Pfc Leonard K. Gierahn
Pfc Ronald J. Van ****
Pvt Lawrence Barvounker
SP4 Edward Page
These names came off TDY, Award Orders and other related material. If you know any of these people they can contact me
Some of the guys from USAG
SP4 Vincent Nardi
SP4 Jack Grier
SP4 Frank Caroke
SP4 Danny Spinks
PFC Danny Robela
SP4 Steve Schuster
SP4 Raymond Redwine passed 9/15/94, Interred at Veteran's Cemetery in Riverside, CA.
Capt. Vincent E. Jenkins, passed 11/11 at age 65.
There are many more names out there, so if you know or remember someone, send them along to us. Time is marching on now, so the brain becomes much slower.
These names came in today from the 597th Engineers:
Captain Edwin R. Levine, promoted to Battalion Adjudant as a Major
Captain Thorward TR Peterson
1st Lt. James Harbison
CWO Edward Patrick Latourf, Headquarters Company
500th MP Detachment
CPT Victor W. Maskakow, CO, MSGT D. A. Cavicchioli, SGT J. E. Reynolds, SGT C. S. Nuity SGT B. W. Smith, SGT S. J. Watson, SP4 M. G. Gash, SP4 O. G. Hannah, SP4 J. M. Holcroft, SP4 R. J. Lavergne, SP4 L. D. Murray, SP4 E. G. Johnson, SP4 C. Schifano, SP4 R. White, PFC J. J. Allegro, PFC E. R. Harrison, PFC E. L. Lord, PFC J. W. Nivens, PFC C. R. Paugh, PFC R. W. Spozarski, PFC M. D. Stout, PFC H. J. Tanner, PFC E. W. Troxler, PFC J. H. Waugh, PFC D. W. Wilson, PFC I. B. Zachmann
The Polish Guards
Cpt Feliks Iwanski, CO, 1st Lt B. Januzs, 1st Lt M. Normark, MSGT A. Czopowski, MSGT J. Przyblo, MSGT P. Soltowski, SFC F. Chmura, SFC H. Czopowski, SFC Z. Badowski, SFC C. Gromakowski, SFC K. Grybel, SFC W. Manka, SFC Z. Moranski, SFC V. Vester, SGT W. Czarnecki, SGT E. Dubis, SGT A. Stanizewski, SGT B.Stencel, SGT R. Szczepanski, SGT W. Szymanski, CPL H. Bochlin, CPL J. Cichocki, CPL J. Drozniak, CPL M. Fracz, CPL W. Golebiowski, CPL T. Jedrusczar, CPL M.
Klejewski, CPL E. Kolus, CPL S. Kozak, CPL S. Kulik, CPL W. Lis, CPL L. Ly Ga, CPL C. Motyl, CPL J. Niemiec, CPL J. Olszewski, CPL W. Oraczynski, CPL J. Paranczak, CPL T. Polak, CPL E. Psyko, CPL J. Radkowski, CPL C. Ryba, CPL J. Szmyd, CPL M.
Szmyd, CPL M. Szydlo, CPL M. Trznadel, CPL J. Wilkolek, CPL H. Winkiel, CPL F. Zielonka, PFC A. Blonski, PFC S.
Chodkiewicz, PFC S. Czerwiec, PFC J. Kot, PFC A. Langer, PFC W. Lewko, PFC S. Lisicki, PFC F. Madej, PFC J. Maslana, PFC P. Sajczuk, PFC M. Siwek, PFC C. Suchenia, PFC F. Szymocha, PFC A. Wisniewski, MAJ J. Kurdwanowski
I heard from an old barracks mate, Danny Spinks. For those who knew Danny, he was a real good steel guitar player and played in several bands prior to arriving in Fontenet. He stayed with us for about 7 months or so and then was transferred to another base near LaRochelle, France. He told me that he had been back to Fontenet a couple of times, and the last time he was there, it was an empty base. By the way for some reason my blog will not allow me to post the name of Ronald J. Van **** on the roster. Sorry Ronald. I looked up Captain John B. Wisniewski yesterday, he has passed away and can be found listed on www.google.com. Again, I hope you contact me and/or leave word that you have visited this site if you have ever visited or were stationed at Fontenet. My good friend from England John Gibb of Brian Howard and Silhouette is living up in Ontario, Canada. .
I recently had word from an earlier FOD soldier, Gary Johnson, who is living in Tucson, Arizona. He was in the 597th Engineer Battalion. He said he got to be in other places and did alot of TDY in those days. Spent most of his time blowing up old German barracks... Sounds like fun huh?
File under the heading of Beatlemania:
For those of you who were around Fontenet in 1962 in the spring. We had another English band come into play at the EM Club. The band was Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. This band had a future Beatle in the group. Ringo Starr. Some of us knew Ringo as Ritchie as he just had adopted the name of Ringo one afternoon in the Enlisted Men's club while hanging around. Also, his future band mates, Paul McCartney and John Lennon came down to Fontenet to see Ringo and that was when the deal was made for him to join the Beatles. The plan came to fruitition when the boys hooked up again in Germany.
Despite the story of what the tabloids and a lot of other stories tell. I saw it come together and met Paul and John when they were there.
1962: RINGO STARR BECOMES ONE OF THE BEATLES ( IN FONTENET ? )
Whether with the Beatles or due to his career, solo, Ringo Starr is listed in the pantheon of the greatest artists in the history of music.
Rory Storm and the Hurricanes at the entrance of the American base of Fontenet in 1962
In 1959 Ringo Starr is still only Richard Starkey and integrates "The Raving Texans". The same year, the members of the group choose new names, and Starkey opts for "Ringo Starr".
In October 1960 the group becomes "Rory Storm and The Hurricanes".
From March 30 to April 30, 1962. Ringo Starr who is 21 years of age, performs at the American base of Fontenet together with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The band is exceptionally accompanied by a female singer named Vicki Woods. An obligatory requirement, performing for the troups. They play every night, with four 15-minute breaks each, at the EM club (club for military members).
According to the statement of Mr. Charles Blute, an American veteran who served in Fontenet at the same time, it happened during his stay in Fontenet that Ringo Starr met together with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He would have been offered 25 pounds per week to replace Pete Best. Another version claims that the meeting took place two months later at Butlins Holiday Camp Skegness, Lincolnshire (GB). Be it as it may, with 5 additional pounds the agreement was sealed.
At the end of a concert, Ringo Starr announced to the group his desire to leave and join another band. The Beatles. Pete Best has been fired Thursday, August 16 by Brian Epstein. Paul and John have left this task to their manager.
Ringo Starr will become officially the fourth Beatle on August 18, 1962. We all know the following... The four boys of Liverpool will become world stars, acclaimed critically and adored by the public.
Edward Page's Story
As time has rolled on, several of the guys have surfaced and have related tidbits of their story to me, This is one of those stories:
I was born, and did most of my growing up and education in public schools in Vermont, with the exception of a brief time spent in New Hampshire at a very young age.
I lost my Dad shortly after graduating from high school in late July of 1959. I was preparing to enlist in the Army. My Mother felt I should continue, as it would not be much different than if I was planning to leave home for college. (Not college material at that point, even though I was awarded by the Rotary Club as the student who had improved most over high school years. Brag!)
Thus, September 1, 1959 I was inducted at the Manchester, NH recruiting center along with my classmate William Johnson, on the Buddy Plan. The plan was to use the guaranteed training for high school graduates to become a draftsman. During our processing I was interviewed by this fellow who told me I did not qualify, or some line. Must be they needed more artillery members? I was shown regs, etc.. I did have as a condition of my enlistment assignment in Europe. I did not have any desire to go to Asia, no doubt I would be given some sort of overseas assignment. Basic Training was at Ft. Dix. During training the Trainfire method of rifle training was used, requiring much live shooting. I developed a condition in my ears of ringing that would not go away. I was advised to see doctors/medical assistance at my next assignment, which was at Ft. Sill for my second-eight, of all things with the 105 Howitzer. It was at Ft. Sill I was examined and tested, upon which I was given my H-3 Profile, with "restrictions from loud noises", no exposure to gun fire except for annual familiarization with the use of ear plugs. (At this point I should mention, during Trainfire we were not given ear protection, only cadre seemed to have them, little plastic container with small chain loop to hook through their uniform, screw cover, etc.. This is what I was finally issued, and I'll bet I still have them around here somewhere.) This made for probably one of the only ones to go through 105 training without being near them when they were fired at the range. As it happened, during second-eight I was sent to Truck Drivers Training for one week. A good session for me to have. When the company went to the range I was the lead 2 1/2 Ton pulling a 105 with the Exec-Officer in my vehicle displaying our pennant. Upon spotting the gun at the range I was sent on my way and drove for a laundry detail the remainder of the day. Meanwhile, my Mother was doing behind the scene work at home looking into the fact that I did not get the training I intended to have upon enlisting. Congressman, Representative, and Recruiter were involved. It turned out that I indeed did have qualifying scores for training as a draftsman MOS 811.10. Upon finishing at Ft. Sill, I was sent back to Ft. Dix to the Overseas Replacement Center, with orders sending me to the 3rd FA Bn 2nd Howitzer 105 SP at Butzbach, Germany, a 105 Self-Propelled Howitzer unit. Once that was known, someone involved in the investigation had me put on Administrative Hold. I believe my hold lasted about one month, with many interviews and statements given/taken. An offer was made, based on my two years of drawing classes/training taken in high school, to be given an OJT assignment as a draftsman MOS 811.10. I accepted, and was sent to France via a MATS flight from McGuire A.F.B.. From Orly field in Paris, after a nights stay, continued via train to Poitiers, per orders assigning me to the USAG there. Upon processing, and another nights layover, continued on to Fontenet to join the 83rd Engr Bn (Cons) H/S Co.. Interviewed with another fellow, also assigned the same, but with the MOS 811.10 for drafting, by MSgt Herman Snyder. I received very little duties in OJT for drafting. Naturally, the newbie is given many details and various assignments. Somehow, I was given some typing duties. Not sure how this happened, unless it came out that I had typing for one school year during high school. Next came learning of an opportunity to move into the Communications Section of the 83rd. Harry Fraley was a teletype operator loaned out to Det. 7, 313th Signal Co.. Harry did not have a replacement and was due to rotate back to CONUS. I was approved for transfer and began OJT as a 723.10 under Harry. Eventually, my PMOS was changed from 140.0 to 723.10. Now I am make some headway and much happier.
Having been loaned out to Det. 7, I developed an extreme loyalty to the Signal Company, and dedication to my work assignment. Plus, added to my concern about protecting my hearing, when it came time to be sent to the field to play games where I could be exposed to gun fire, I did not want to go! Therefore, I used my profile and visits to the doctor to be excused/exempted. I did not go, and remained on post doing my normal duties. It did not set well with the 1st Sgt., (Still trying to come up with his name.), especially when the doctor, a Major, phoned him about my case. From this point on it seemed the 1st Sgt. was on my case for everything and anything he could get me on. This resulted in frequent Extra Duty, which eventually led to him putting me before our C.O. Capt. George A. Crowell for misconduct on 1 July 1961, reducing me in grade to Pvt. E2, having been Pfc E3 for nearly 14 month . What is interesting to me is at this point, I was pending my transfer to Detachment 7, 313th Signal Company, on Special Orders Number 80, dated 30 June 1961, EDCSA: 3 July 61. Naturally, my new C.O. of the 313th Signal wanted to know what had happened. After explaining, I was told now that we have you we will take good care of you. Within 30 days I was promoted back to Pfc E3, and later to Sp4 on 8 May 1962. A very hard lesson was learned, and having been Capt. Crowell's driver and aide when he was Range Officer at Montmorrillon during April of 1960 was of no help. The bottom line was, the 1st Sgt. did not like tailored "Peg Leg Britches", or, boots on display for inspection with "Spit Shinned Toes & Heels, with only High Shinned Uppers". How proud I was one day, while I was walking through the hallway in the Headquarters building, and in walked the 1st Sgt. who noticed I was again wearing my Pfc stripe!
Fast forward to 6 November 1961, when I was sent TDY to the 313th Hq. in Poitiers to work in their Communications Center for further training until 22 January 1962. Lots of shift work, but very good duty!
In July of 1962, I became the Communications Chief of the Fontenet Sub-Post Communications Center. I do not recall the date, but there was another incident that shall remain in my mind forever. I believe it was during a weekend, a Priority Classified Message came in. The practice was, due to the message status level, it was to be delivered and signed for a.s.a.p.. The officer who normally would have been notified to come in for the message was being covered by another officer. The officer, a Captain, was in civilian clothes arriving from off post. Upon requesting his I.D. he would not, or could not, provide it. I want to think he did not have it with him. Therefore, I would not let him have the message. His comment was this better not be important. Naturally, I knew the content of the message, and he left without it.... Had I not asked for his I.D. I would have been in violation of procedures, even if he was in uniform. Must be he was not pleased, as it might have been the next work day I was interviewed over the phone with our C.O. in Poitiers about the situation. Upon explaining the event I received a verbal commendation for my action. Upon clearing post, when preparing for my departure to CONUS, I encountered the officer again. I am not certain he had completely let go of the situation.
On 16 August 1962 I reported to Bremerhaven, Germany for transportation to CONUS via the USNS Buckner. I was forewarned by those that had come over by ship a good duty to have on board would be as a projectionist. Having a projectionist license I volunteered when the call went out. I must have been about the second to appear. This made for good duty, as I later learned those in my bay had K.P. on the way home....
Upon arriving at Ft. Hamilton, New York, I processed out and headed home to White River Jct., Vermont, via train. Might have gotten as far as Springfield, Massachusetts. Had to transfer to a bus for the remainder of the trip. Evidently, since my last trip by train on that route in February of 1960, schedules must have changed, which did not allow me to make the entire trip via train. When I finally arrived in town, very late at night, I took a cab to my home. Mind you, this was a surprise home coming, as I did not let my Mother and Sister know exactly when I was returning. I went to great length to have someone mail a letter from me after I left Fontenet, thus creating the idea I had not left yet. Talk about having a strange feeling when I arrived at the house, standing there knocking on the door in the middle of the night, trying to wake someone up to come to the door. Finally my Mother came to the door, and soon my Sister arose. Now there was some excitement going on!
Some French Civilians have been located:
My grandfather was a police officer, and I guess I have some of his assets of detection. This week, I was able to track down a couple of French civilians who played a role on our base in France. Namely, Ginette Revaux, who was the Post Exchange Manager, her daughters Michelle and Danielle. Danielle was a switchboard operator, and I think Michelle was a secretary on the base. Anyways, Ginette and her family immigrated to the United States in 1963 and settled in the Mason City area of Iowa. When she left France with her family, she had the two young ladies, a young girl about 5 or so and a new baby. As time does, Ginette has lost her son Hans in 2011 and her daughter passed away in 2009 from complications related to cardiac issues. II have been trying to make contact with someone in the family to learn more, but that is work in progress. When I find out more, I will let you know. Talked with Michelle also. She is also living in Iowa, and is retired. She spent her last 35 years working in a hospital and was the CFO when she retired. She reports that she shall be going on a trip to France in a few weeks and will forward some photos to me. We had a great time catching up on things.
Michele recently visited Fontenet and was kind enough to send me some of the more recent pictures, which I have posted. She returns every year or so to tend to family matters and the like. She said the web site is awesome and that a lot of attention has gone into it and extends her thanks to all involved. I will post materials as they come in. Keep your eyes open.
I received an email from Michele today (1/31/14) informing me that Ginette has passed away. She had a fall and broke her hip and just did not rally afterward. She has donated her body for medical science. She was residing in Mason City, Iowa at the time. RIP Ginette.
Another Soldier reports: Harold Tanner, MP Detachment
First of all, I married Mady Erb who worked at a shoe factory in St Jean. In 1969 we bought a house near St jean where her parents lived. I see some Polish Labor Service with whom I worked in 1958-59-60. When we go to France each year we spent from 2 to 3 months, as my wife has a lot of family still living there. Three years ago while we were in St Jean we went back to the city hall in St Jean and we got remarried on our 50th wedding anniversary. When we got married on 22 Aug 1959, we got married in the mayors office in St Jean, then we went to the local Protestant church and was married there, then we went back to the chapel on Fontenet Post and was married for the third time by the Fontenet Chaplain. Went to Saints for our honeymoon, as we got married on a three day pass. We now live in East Texas on a 4 acre plot with our son and his wife. After Fontenet, I returned to the states and served two years in the active Army Reserve, until I went back into the service and was stationed in Germany for three years. I reenlisted in Germany to go to helicopter maintenance school. While in Germany I applied for helicopter pilot training and was selected to attend helicopter training at Fort Wolters, Tx, Oct 1965. After Wolters I went to Ft Rucker, AL for advance training. After Rucker I went to Ft Eustice, VA for maintenance officers course and then to Ft Bragg, NC and the 82nf Airborne Div. Then to VN 1967-1968. Again to Germany where I accepted a direct commission to 2Lt and again to VN for a second tour. After my second tour in VN I was assigned to Ft Hood, TX. I was caught up in the RIF program, a reduction in forces, because being a commissioned officer, I did not have a college education. But I was released from active duty and assigned directly to the active reserve, where I remained until I retired with 24 years service. Now I am on social security, reserve retired pay, and I am also retired from the State of Texas.So much for now. Harold. You may reprint any or all of this brief history.
Another Soldier Reports: Santiago M. Castro, 83rd Engineer Battalion
This has got to be the strangest way to receive a letter. I belong to a group in Beverly which is an advisory council to the local Police Department. Last week (6/25/13), we had our annual Police Recognition Day. The day is one where officers are recognized for outstanding work on the force. On this day, the Chief of Police came in to the meeting, carrying an envelope in his hand. After saying hellos to a variety of people, he started heading toward my wife and I who were seated at the end of a banquet table so we could enjoy the view of the ocean from our chairs. He approached us, and still had this envelope in his hands and presented it to me. He said that he had not read the letter, but I assume his secretary had. On the envelope beside the address was Attention Charlie Blute. Well, when he handed the envelope to me I had first thoughts that it was a summons or something like that. But, it wasn't. The letter said "Sir, I was at APO 259 Frontenet from Nov 1960 to Jan 1963. I don't know how to use a computer, I have a few photos of Fontenet. What I want to know is of AGNES DE MAJOS and is she still alive, she was the Post Librarian, and we lived together in St. Jean d'Angely. If Agnes is still alive can you get her my mailing address and cell #?
Santiago M. Castro
922 N. Benton Dr. Apt. 107
Sauk Rapids, MN 56379-2560 *update 11/18/2014
Cell phone # 602-826-3990
He and I chatted on the phone for some time and his life was quite a ride. If you know Santiago, get in touch with him and reconnect. I thought you would enjoy this little story as I thought it was quite a creative way to get a letter to someone. By the way he thought where I lived was a small town like his in Arizona, Beverly is pretty large with a population way over 50,000 people. I recently had a phone call from Santiago, and he has reconnected with Agnes, and they are together in Minnesota at this time (12/1/13). They are planning a trip back to France this spring. I am sure he would appreciate this information being shared.
Another Soldier Reports: Ken Gregware, 228th Signal Company, part of the 362 Signal Battalion
The other day I opened my email, and received a note from Ken Gregware. It turns out that he lives in nearby Marblehead, MA, so I answered him and we got together at the local American Legion Post where I am a member. We spent several hours together talking about Fontenet and France in general. He said he has not heard from anyone in his company in a long time and that he does not know where his company members are. He said that his company was in France about 6 months and rotated back to Fort Gordon. So, if you are out there you 228ers, you can reach Ken at the following Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. His phone number is available upon request.
Norman Hoggart: Dependent/Student at our Elementary School
Hello, I found your site and was just amazed...I lived in Reigner, a small farming village just outside of Fontenet. I was there from 1960-64. We were literally the last ones to leave when Fontenet was closed. We were the last ones out of the housing area. Before that we lived in Reigner. I was 10 years old and soon made friends with our neighbors the Perot family. I became a French farmer and learned the language, German my 1st, English 2nd, French 3rd and Spanish my 4th. I went to school in Fontenet Miss. Monahan was our Principal, she was a pretty strawberry blonde in her late 20's. My teacher was Miss Pazinski, she was also very attractive and I had a crush on her. The school bus came daily to Reigner to take us to school. While I was in Reigner I was given the name of Kennedy, because of John Kennedy. It was given to me by George who was a farmer across the street from the Chateau we were renting. The Perot brothers were older than I they took me in like their little brother. Everyone thought that I was one of the Perots, I wore a black beret, blue jacket, black rubber boots and I spoke French. I loved it there it was the most freedom I had ever had. My Dad worked at Fontenet he was with the 89th Engineers Company A I believe. He was in charge of the tool shed, he was an E-5 at thee time. His name was William Hoggatt. He was 6feet 1 inch around 180lbs, with black hair and a red mustache. He saved the life of A French Colonel. The Colonel was on a moped and turned to grab his coat that was flapping in the windhis moped went off the road. He was unconscious and bleeding, Dad stopped and bandaged him up and took him to the hospital. I was about 13 yrs old then. I was asked by Marius Perot to bring my father that "The Colonel" wanted to see him. I told my Dad that he should come with me a Colonel wanted to see him. My friends all came along; Michel, Jacky and Robert as well as Marius and my Dad... I translated. We walkedup to his big house. A man came out all bandaged up arm in a sling along with his three daughters. He thanked my Dad for saving his life and said that he wrote a letter tothee General. My Dad received a letter for that...the three daughters came to me and each one kissed me on the cheek and thanked me that my father had saved their father. It was an amazing time. The first day in Fontenet we went to a briefing by a sergeant in Kakies telling us that we were all Ambassadors in france. I took that seriously. When we left after four years I was heart broken...it was home. I said a teary aurevoir to my friends and promised to write. We did write for the next 29 years when I went to visit my friends on the farm. I went again just last year for a month. It was the most fantastic vacation I have ever taken. I went to Fontenet and the weeds that now have taken over. My friend Michel today sent me a newspaper about the army when they were there. They also mentioned Ringo Starr and John and Paul...Who would have thought?? I write for a local newspaper, thee Comstock Chronicle out of Virginia City, Nevada. I will be doing a few articles on Reigner and Fontenet. I tried to get on your website but it was closed.I am now 65 years old and I am also retired from the US army after 20 years. I live in the countrythanks to my years in France. Oh yes I was also on the Little League I was the catcher and went on to the BUSAC all stars. I have many stories to tell of my time in Fontenet. My friend Robert 's son is the Mayor of Reigner, his name is Christin Perot and he is also a very good friend. I met a man while I was there who had worked at one of the shops as a welder I think. I also went to French class while in Fontenet, My teacher was Madame Gilbeau, who was from Matha. Her family owned the big garage there it is still there and she is old must be around 90. I am so pleased to have found your site. I hope you have time to include me in your site. I have some pictures I would be happy to share. My email is email@example.com...my address; Norman Lee Hoggatt, 114 Linehan Road, Mound Hpouse Nevada 89706. Take care and Happy trails, Norman
From the American Legion lasted issue: Frank Maline from the 83rd Engineer Battalion (1962-1963) is seeking team players from the post Fast Pitch Softball League. If you were a part of the team..his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Last Days of Fontenet
Submitted by: George H. Rains, Jr., 313th Signal Co. (Svc) Detachment 7, Fontenet Sub-Post, with the assistance of his wife Alice Davis-Rains. Posted October 14, 2014.
Closing Camp de Fontenet
The background of this story is that this was the period of time when General de Gaulle was President of France and was using all of the power
of his position to force American troops out of France. When the decision was made to close Camp de Fontenet my detachment was moved to Poitiers and I was left behind to man the switchboard and maintain the telephone communications. Besides myself, there was a skeleton crew consisting of two captains, three lieutenants, one sergeant-major, two dozen engineers, and the Polish displaced persons and their families. The Poles were serving as camp guards. Eventually most of these fellows left and there remained only the Polish guards, their families, and me.
The Poles were World War II German prisoners of war who had been stranded in France at the end of the war. American military installations
all over France employed them as guards and gave them and their families base housing. I moved my cot from the barracks into the office next to the
switchboard. I also had a weapons carrier truck that had been left to provide me with transportation. I was given various keys and my instructions were to
remain where I was until ordered to move elsewhere. Essentially I was on vacation as my only duties were to check in with the Poitiers switchboard twice
a day to verify that our telephone communications were in working order. The rest of my time was my own. I did quite a lot of reading as the base library had
not yet been warehoused. There were only two places I could eat. Either I ate at the Polish Club or went into town. I chose the Polish Club. They made a good
sausage and mustard sandwich I liked and the beer was good.Eventually boredom and curiosity drove me to poke around and explore what was left on the base. I looked inside the big warehouse and discovered a mass of—furniture. There were hospital beds, thick mattresses, tables, chairs, chests of drawers, lamps, everything you could think of. None of it would have won any awards for styling but it was all sturdy and well made.No one seemed to know what would become of the facility or of anything that was left there. I remember when had I asked the librarian what would become of the books she said she had no idea.
Eventually I got a heads-up call from my sergeant in Poitiers advising me that I would be called to rejoin the rest of my outfit in about three weeks.
One of the Polish guards spoke very good English and told me that he had formerly served as an officer in the Polish army at a rank equivalent to
a U.S. Army major. He had a wife and three children. One night he invited me to his place for dinner. This was the first time I had been inside the quarters of any of the Polish guards. Dinner was served on a rickety table. The chairs were falling apart. There were no chests of drawers. The shelves that were used for storage were obviously homebuilt out of scraps. The beds were of poor quality and the mattresses were pathetic. I was shocked and being young and not at all tactful I blurted out, “Are all of you housed like this?” My Polish friend was obviously both very embarrassed and very pissed. “Yes,” he said, “some worse.”
The next day I crossed paths with him again and I stopped him. I took him to the warehouse and showed him all the stored surplus furniture. I
told him that he and his countrymen should take all of their furnishings, put them neatly in the warehouse, and take whatever they needed to improve their
housing. “Oh, no.” he said. “I can’t do that. That is American military property.” “And just what, sir, is your understanding of my position on this
post?” I always called him sir as he had been an officer and he was older than me. “You are the last remaining American soldier and, as such, you are
my superior.” “Then, in that case, I am telling you to exchange all of the furniture as I have instructed and that, sir, is a direct order.” I did say this with a smile.
The next day the Polish guards began the exchange of furnishings. All of their old stuff was neatly placed along one wall and they took enough to
supply themselves with decent beds, tables, chairs, and so forth. I made it clear that they were to have enough beds to comfortably sleep both couples and
children. They made various trips and it took them maybe half a week.
After that I continued to eat at the Polish Club but I was not allowed to pay for anything. A few weeks after that I got a call that I had three days to secure
the post, re-configure the switchboard so that all calls would be routed directly to the office of the guards, pack up my stuff, and report to Poitiers. I was told
to leave at nine o’clock on a Tuesday morning. I relayed this information to the guards. And that is what I did. At nine o’clock on Tuesday morning I got
into my faithful weapons carrier and started off for Poitiers. Except that I didn’t expect all of the Polish guards and their families—men, women, and kids—to be waiting right inside the gate. The women and children were standing quietly and the men were all standing at attention. They saluted as I drove past.
I was floored. Several weeks after I arrived at Poitiers my sergeant said to me, “I have heard what you did.” I was still a bit uneasy about the whole thing and a little concerned that I might be in trouble for exceeding my authority so I said, “No, Sarge, you didn’t hear anything at all about me.” Down through the years I have thought about those Polish families, not only at Fontenet, but all over France, and wondered what on earth became of them. As my Polish friend said, they had nowhere to go. The Germans had destroyed their village and their country was controlled by the Soviets. These were people who truly had fallen through the cracks of the system if they were still living in awful conditions with their lives completely on hold almost twenty years after the ending of World War II.
After the Americans were asked to leave France, these activities affected the Department of the Army civilians that were employed by the post as well as the Polish Guards, and the general population of Fontenet, St. Jean d'Angely, and other areas nearby. That is central to us from Fontenet. We fail to think about the rest of France. We had a large number of people and this action touched the French population, especially the economic base of the country. I was not there when this happened, and I know there were many people that were personally touched by this event. I have heard from some of them personally. It was very painful. I heard from one individual who was a construction laborer for us on the base. He told me that he could not get a job anywhere around Fontenet, and finally went to Holland where he found work. He eventually left France and now resides in Australia. Several of the secretaries have located this blog and related how they got away from France and landed in the states. From a sociological perspective, Mr. DeGualle hurt his own people. I don't know why and it is past the time to care about him. He certainly was ill advised about what would happen to the support systems in his homeland. So, people lost out. They lost their jobs, their homes, their loves, and their lives in essence. A depression must have followed our departure. I am sure that other people could contribute more of an essay on this subject, and I do invite their involvement and encourage a dialogue as well.
This is strictly new business!! For those of you who are Veterans, I recently learned that there are General Laws in Massachusetts that pertain to Veterans. We here eligible for a "means test". This is an examination of our income, and it is done by the Veteran's Agent or Veteran's Service Officer in your community. I am not an attorney, I am a retired psychotherapist, and human resources manager. My career path has taught me much, but since I have retired, I have learned much more. Now, I would recommend that if you have not had a recent discussion with you VSO, you should do so. Pick up the phone and call them. There should be one in your town or city. You will need documents, your DD214, marriage certificate *if married, earnings statement, such as Social Security statement, lease agreement, or mortgage agreement, a run of your past 3 months in your bank, and whatever else pertains to your situation.
Now I am not guaranteeing a nickle! However, you may be entitled to some form of monthly income, reimbursements for medical/dental/pharmaceuticals also.
Also, I recently was evaluated for hearing loss, I am legally deaf. I have had 3 exams now, each be a different source. One exam was conducted by the VA
in Boston. The doctor there said I will be getting hearing aids, and fitted me for my ears. I shall have them in a couple of weeks. She also referred me to
a Ear Surgeon, he said I do not need an operation at this time, but wanted to see me in a couple of months. This information was also shared with my VSO,
he in turn submitted paperwork to the VA, and 2 days later, I got the paperwork in the mail. These forms have been completed and are ready for his review prior to being sent back to the VA (which will be mailed certified receipt requested). Another one of our Fontenet brothers recently completed his claim and did quite well, financially. Since I retired over 10 years ago, I have found all kinds of free or low cost assistance. Most of these things came via a google request, believe it or not. My wife and I are both retired and live on our respective Social Security checks. I know some of you are in the same situation. I know some of you have to live with your kids because of the cost of living out there. So all I doing here is giving you a tip. Like the proverb says, "seek and you shall find".
Thus far, I have found assistance for the "donut hole in my third party reimbursement". I have found free medical care for my wife and I, also dental care,
and pharmaceutical services. These are not government programs, but now with the VSO's help, we can get reimbursed for these expenses too! My wife recently had eye surgery for cataracts and we did not have the money to shell out, so she contacted the doctor's office after my suggestion. Outcome, free surgery, and medicines. There are ways. Now some of you are thinking I live on a government subsidy, how will it affect me? Well, I asked the same question, because I have HUD Assisted living where I am. The VSO said it will not affect anything! Why I said, he said because what these monies are awards and not income. So, I suggest that you look in the phone book, go to google, and looked for your city hall and Veteran's Services. There are other things too, like transportation to appointments that are low cost, or free. So, this is my gift to you FOD Vets! Good luck and if you get stuck let me know.
Good bless and Happy 2015 Charlie.....
With the holidays on the horizon, I wish everyone well and hope this year brings peace, joy and happiness to all. Charlie.
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