May 28, 2018, is significant for two reasons. One: It is our 35th wedding anniversary. Two: It is Memorial Day. So, it seems very appropriate to write about my husband, Scott, a Vietnam Era veteran. I will warn you: This is a very long post. I wanted to capture his story, much of it in his own words, for our children and grandchildren. Scott is a man of few words. I really enjoyed the morning we spent as Scott relived his experience. As we chatted and I learned more about his “escapades”, one thing became clear. It’s a good thing we met after he left the Army. There might not have been a marriage had I met him earlier!
|PFC Scott Winchester Holman 1971|
|Skiing in Innsbruck, Austria|
|Enjoying a BeerFest|
Scott’s barracks looked more like a dorm room than the barren room one might imagine. The four guys divided the room into two sections with two beds each by hanging a sheet down the middle of the room. The room reflected the mood of the times, with political posters and banners hung throughout. Scott was especially proud of his stereo.
|“Monty” Montgomery and Scott in the barracks.|
|Barracks with curtain divider.|
On the shelf above the door were the soldiers’ duffel bags, packed with the necessary items in case they needed to evacuate in a hurry. One outfit, an all-white coverall, was included, in the event camouflage was needed in the snow.
|You can see the tanks in the background of this photo.|
Scott spent some time doing guard duty. His assignment was to monitor nuclear ammo dumps on a NATO site. Despite the rule against having cameras, Scott took some good pictures there. He also wasn’t supposed to fall asleep but tells of one time when he woke up and called in to report some M60 tanks surrounding the ammo dump. He was told, “Yeah. They’ve been there for 20 minutes.” Oops.
Scott also described the boredom of guard duty. “If you were lucky, you’d hear an explosion once in a while – maybe deer stepping on a mine from WWII.”
Another memory was that of the Reforger exercise. Basically, a war game, the purpose was to ensure that NATO had the ability to quickly deploy forces to West Germany in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact. During that week, troops pretty much lived in the woods, sleeping in tents. Scott remembers having to move locations four times.
The cans had pipes with hot water running through
to rinse off trays and silverware.
|In the tents during reforger.|
|How we lived during reforger.|
|Mr. D, the Chief Warrant Officer, checking map during reforger.|
There were several names, Scott recalls easily. “Smitty”, whose last name was Smith, Dylan Reville (Whose name may be misspelled – but not as badly as his mother spelled it – once Dylan received a letter from his mother, addressed to Dylan E. Dylan. Amazingly, he got the letter!), and Monty. “Monty was a great guy. A little guy – he’d get under a vehicle on a creeper. Within 5 minutes, you’d hear snoring. You’d go by, kick him, and yell, Monty! Wake up!”
|5th and 32nd Field Artillery Unit|
“I had an easy life. But they would always break our stones. Your sideburns were too long… your mustache is below your lip… you could get in trouble if you got a really bad sunburn. One time, 5 or 6 of us got Mohawk haircuts. We all got written up for ‘destruction of government property.”
By the end of his commitment, Scott had managed to rack up thirteen disciplinary reports (Article 15.) These were given for transgressions such as going off-base and coming back so late you miss the morning formation. As a punishment, the soldier would be restricted to base for 30 days and fined. He was making maybe $300 a month, so the fines could really hurt financially. Especially when he hadn’t saved a penny!
|Mr. D – Chief Warrant Officer.|
After two Article 15s, a soldier risked a dishonorable discharge. “Mr. D. was a big help. He was like a father figure to us.” Mr. D. was the chief warrant officer for maintenance, who was good friends with the Major. Scott had the good fortune to be Mr. D.’s driver. His good friend, Dylan was the Major’s driver. “Mr. D. would go to the Captain’s office and ask him to tear up the reports.”
|Scott and the Jeep he drove.|
Scott’s unit was deactivated early because the Honest John missile they were responsible for was obsolete. Despite his paperwork listing May 13, 1974, as his date of separation, Scott actually left Germany in April.
|The “Honest John” missle being fired.|
in Scott’s unit was to present the soldier who was “getting short” (leaving in 60 days or less) with a clip from the barracks curtain. The soldier would wear the clip so everyone would know he was a “short-timer.” Before being allowed to leave, the soldier was given a checklist. He would go to every department and get the items on the list checked off to show he didn’t owe anything. “From there, you’d go to the reenlistment office where they’d talk to you about re-upping. I walked in, handed them the paperwork. There was no discussion. I didn’t want to reenlist!”
Scott left the building and signed out. He had his duffel bag over his shoulder and as he was walking down the stairs to go to the train station he heard, “Leaving us Holman?” It was the 2nd Lieutenant wearing civilian clothing. This man was particularly disliked by the men in Scott’s unit. “Let me ask you one question. Are you the one who smashed my windshield?” At some point, earlier on, his windshield had been smashed. According to Scott, “A Howitzer shell was thrown out the window at the Lieutenant’s vehicle, but it missed. So, it was picked up off the ground and thrown into the window.” The Lieutenant suspected Scott but was unable to get the necessary signatures against him. “Sir, I have no idea,” Scott replied. “He got so pissed!”
|Deactivation of Scott’s unit.|
While Scott was in Germany, his parents moved from Tarrytown to New Haven, Connecticut. Scott’s father had taken a teaching position at the Yale Divinity School. His parents didn’t come to New York to pick him up when he arrived back stateside. He flew from Germany into Fort Dix, New Jersey. After spending a week there to debrief, he was bussed to the Port Authority in New York. “You were on your own from there.” Scott has no recollection of how he got to New Haven but he remembers taking a taxi to his parents’ apartment on Canner Street. “Sam (Scott’s stepmother) answered the door and welcomed me home.”
Alan E. Samuel – Lt.jg. – Navy – Korean War
Alfonse Falcone – Army – WWII
John Winchester Holman – Army – Vietnam
Gilbert “Gerry” Goodgion – Navy – Vietnam
Dario “Doc” Bernabucci – Army – WWII
and to those in our family who served:
Scott W. Holman – PFC – Army – Vietnam
Katharine A. Samuel Lynch – Air Force
Jeanne C. Samuel – Navy