Forward by Robert W. Reichard
TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION
I attended the monthly meeting of our fliers group this month. My good friend Harry had read my book and said he couldn't discuss parts of it to others, because, when he did, they didn't believe some of the stories.
Two days later I thought about the conversation with Harry and realized he had a point. I had lived it and didn't question it because it had been my life and that was the way it happened. Looking back I can now realize how ridiculous it might seem to someone else. What were some of those out of the ordinary experiences?
- Flew a plane solo at the age of 16 or was it 17? It was 17.
- On board the Liberty ship, the Felix Grundy (troopship), headed to Italy, in WWII, I was the provost marshal and the hot shellman on a 4 inch 50 surface gun, with the naval gun crew during a submarine attack. Two ships in the convoy were sunk.
- Flew 24 missions as a bombardier and one as a navigator, on a B-24, in World War II with the rank of 1Lt and was the squadron assistant intelligence officer and trained as a B-24 radar (Mickey) operator. I dropped bombs on 6 countries.
- I left the Army Air Force in 1945 and returned to civilian life. In 1950 I enlisted in the Army.
- Was trained as a counter-intelligence corps agent.
- Entered the Korean conflict as a regular army corporal.
- Was assigned to the 1st Marine Div at Hamhung, North Korea, Dec 1950. for about a week under Lt Landrum, USMC. I am one of the "Chosin Few".
- Was selected as a guard for General MacArthur when he visited Wonju, Korea in 1951.
- Was probably the only military policeman to fly over the North Korean capitol, then to the Yalu river, on a photo recon mission in 1951.
- Cut the co-pilot from a crashed C-47, near Bowling Green, Va with a fire axe in the 50's.
- Was assigned to the staff of a general officer in 1955.
- I was given a personal tour of the highly classified radar/control center at the Tempelhof Airdrome, which was instrumental in breaking the Russian blockade of Berlin.
- Developed information which helped in the capture of a traitor wanted by West German intelligence.
- Received a commendation from the Police President of Berlin in 1956.
- My departure from West Berlin was carried in three of the newspapers.
- Became a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne, at Augsburg, Germany 1957.
- In 1957 I met Prince Henry of Bavaria in his Kaltenberg Castle and he gave me a hand written fishing permit to trout fish in the stream there.
- Received training as a criminal investigator at Oberammergau, Germany.
- In 1962 ran a military police detachment in Korea north of the 38th parallel composed of 25 US army MP's and 25 Korean MP's.
- Received a letter from the Chief of Pochon county, Korea for my assistance in helping with the administrative development and rural prosperity of his county.
- Almost ended my career again when I traveled over a road, twice within an hour, in which two tank mines had been planted by the North Koreans. And that was peacetime Korea.
- Successfully penetrated the underground Pentagon twice in one day.
- Was the noncommissioned officer in charge of security at the underground Pentagon.
- Returned to Italy in 1965 and became a first sergeant (ISG) of military police. Then I took over the position of ISG at the 69th Ordnance Company, a slot previously filled by a nuclear technician.
- In Italy, prior to retirement, I was awarded the title of honorary first sergeant of the 5th Allied Tactical Air Force by that unit.
- During my time in service I held top secret, cosmic, and cryptic security clearances.
- I was awarded the Legion of Merit for service as a non-commissioned officer.
- As a Police Officer (1946-1950) I attended 3 schools conducted by the FBI. As an MP I attended an FBI seminar at Quantico, Va, May 1961.
- In civilian life I was accepted into the American Institute of Industrial Engineers without a degree.
- As a hobby I fixed a scrapped printer and then a broken computer and that started my story writing.
I have written because the computer has made it a simple task. I have no living children, so it wasn't for that reason. My writing has given me a lift and I am glad I started writing when I did because with time my mind is ridding itself of the lesser happenings of that period. I hope that some of the stories I have given out will resurface from someone's attic about 50 years from now to counter those who have worked so hard to bury the truth about this period in our history.
You are right, Harry, it does sound like the "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" or some other movie turned out by Hollywood, but the truth is that I am stuck with it. Your friend, Bob.
-RWR- 29 Feb 96. (Rev - 20 Sept 2000)
NOTICE TO READERS
I have tried to write my stories as they occurred and as well as I can remember them. I had no diary because I never thought I'd write about my experiences. The events did occur and where possible I used my military records to establish dates. However, 11 December 1944 will remain with me as long as my brain responds normally, and with the others who were there. I used real names when proper and closely sounding names when I thought there was the possibility that someone could be still be hurt by my story.
There are still some grammatical and spelling errors and I'm sure I have the horse behind the cart once in a while. I have corrected some but not all. I had finished a story recently and my wife was on vacation, so I asked Walter (the retired sergeant major) to go over the story for me. Little did I know that he had a computer program to do the job. I looked over the corrections or rejection of my work and wrote him the following:
Received your epistle the other day. I looked it over and decided to use my language instead of the computers. My reasoning was simple: I am not out for the Nobel or Pulitzer prizes in literature and if I followed the computer dictates, the end result would not be the flow of my picturesque language, but of some programmer of the English language, who hadn't walked in my footsteps, and wouldn't know where to step if he had. After all, my stories were written for my friends and none of them have completed a doctorate in any form except my doctor and dentist and they are too busy to read it. I do thank you for the time and effort you put into it. I hope you can find another use for the program.
Walter, I know it is nice to be perfect, but at my age, I'm not trying to impress anyone. I do like to connect my thoughts, when I write but sometimes the thoughts stray and why not? It was a long time ago and my memory and a few official records have been my only guide.
So, readers don't be too critical of my work because I am not a writer.
- RWR - 17 July 1993
PS: My dentists and family doctor have taken the time to read some of my stories and have enjoyed them, even ask for more.
Copyright (C) 2003 by Robert W. Reichard and David F. Abner, All rights reserved except for items already copyrighted by others and credited within.