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Local Board No. 2 of the Honolulu Selective Service System sent me a draft notice a week before I was scheduled to begin my graduate work (1951) at UH, and employement as a Teaching Assistant for Botany 100, General Botany.  Dr. Harold St. John, Botany Department chairman, wrote to the draft board stating that if Al was drafted, "the University of Hawai‘i would not be able to offer certain required courses," so the Board granted Al a student deferment.  After four years of graduate work (two year at UH, and two at UM) with a sutdent deferment, the Board (1955) refused to give me any more time (unlike today's volunteer Army, military service then, befoee 1972, was mandatory).  I had completed my course work and all the exams, but had only made preliminary research for my dissertation at the University of Michigan.  Under these extenuating circumstances,and not wishing to be drafted in the middle of the semestee after I had paid my tuitin and fees,  I "volunteered" to be drafted into the U.S. Army, with four months' basic training in D Company D of the 25th Infantry Division's Training Battalion at Schofield Barracks on O'ahu.

I was sent overseas, first from Honolulu's Army Pier 40 to the Oakland Army Pier, and then by slow airplane to Fort Dix NJ.  I was assigned a bunk in the enlisted men's quarters (vertical rows of five bunks each) of the USNS General William O. Darby (A-TP-127), from the Brooklyn Army Terminal, NY to Bremerhaven, Germany.  Fortunately I had my camera (Kine-Exacta SLR) with me, and some high school and college journalism and typing experience listed in my 201 file..  I was assigned to put out the daily ship's paper in an office on deck (with fresh air), and the seamen were kind enough to provide me with a thin mattress to put on the desks so I wouldn't have to return to the cramped and very smelly cargo compartment to sleep.  I was assigned to the 371st Armored Infantry Battalion (AIB) in Merrell Barracks (formerly the SS Kaserne, containing rooms sized for 1-8 soldiers, with wood parquet floors!) in Nürnberg, Germany.   My camera and 201 file led to my first assignment, on special duty as a Public Information Specialist in the headquarters of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR)instead of being an infantryman, whose daily duties would have involved mud games with the 371st AIB..  In Operation Gyroscope, the 3rd ACR replaced the 2nd ACR in August 1955,  with duties of border surveillance (1st Battalion in Bindlach bei Bayreuth; 2nd Battalion in Warner Barracks, Bamberg; the 3rd Battalion in th Pond Barracks, Amberg; and the 371st AIB and he regimental headquarters in Merrell Barracks, Nürnberg.  
Two of my colleagues in the then Public Information Section were journalism graduates (Jack McCafferty had worked for United  Press International, and Fred Lachman for the Seattle Times), and mentored him.  I improved my journalistic skills by studying all of their text books, plus all the available books on the subject from Amerika Haus, which was then part of the U. S. Information Agency, in downtown Nürnberg.  This self-study was 
Photo: A US soldier and a member of the German Customs Police peer across the border just inside the 50-meter restricted zone. Circa 196probably equivalent to a BA in Journalism [by coincidence, my oldest daughter is an Associate Professor in the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University (the premiere school in this field), which has a Department of Defense contract to provide in-service training to Public Affairs Specialists, and the school is also a "field team" for ESPN.  She is also one of the North American representatives developing a cooperative effort with a consortium of 20 European univesities.]. When Jack and Fred completed their tours of duty Map 8: Major Locations For Border Unitfor return to CONUS (Continental United States) and subsequent discharge from the Army, I was promoted to Non-Comissioned Officer in Charge of the Public Affairs Section, which included higher ranking non-coms.  My actual military occupational specialty (MOS) was as a heavy machine gun (50 mm.) operator in the 371st AIB.  Since several incidents by military members against the local community created problems, the Seventh US Army Commaning General emphasized the importance of German-American relations.  While I had passed my German reading exam at the University of Michigan, there is a considerable difference between written German (it goes on for pages and pages, with the verb at the end of this several paged sentence) and spoken German.  My first assignment in Germany was to deliver some TV equipment, by train, to a pier in Hamburg.  On the way back, I was in the Dining Car, and following European customs, a young German accountant asked if he could join me at my table.  We were required, when we were on duty outside of the barracks, to be in "Class 'A' dress uniforms.  He asked me. "How do you like Germany?"  I told him that I had been in the country only a few days and was unable to form an opinion.  He inivted me to have dinner with him a couple of weekends later, and gave me directions on to get there by train.  His fiance did not understand English, so Ranier Wilcke translated everything from English to German, and vice versa.  With regular dinner invitations, I began to remember some of my Germsn language lesson, and in three months, my German had improved.  I also made acquaintances with other local residents, E.U. Fromm, editor-in-chief of the Nürnberger Zeitung, policeman Wolfgan and Annamarie Bunke, and many others.  I eventually became fluent in German, and speak it with a Franconian accent.  I also served as the regimental commander's interpreter.  When my good friend, Armin Schikora, then assistant city editor for the Nürnberger Nachrichten wrote a full page feature story (see the newspaper reproductions below; this article may also be found as scanned attachments 1957-05-23, a, b) about Germans who had come back as GI's (draftees), he included a photo of me (lower right corner of the seconf clipping) with my office soldier colleague, Klaus Wassermann (Klaus is also in the center of the large photo showing the German GIs leaving Merrell Barracks)..   






































































Upon completion of my active duty requirement, I decided to take an overseas discharge and remained in Nürnberg, until I was employed as a Technical Administrative Assistant with the Machine Records Branch,
European Exchange Service (EES) in Katterbach bei Ansbach/Mfr., Germany.  This branch was known in German as the Hollerith-Abteilung, and was responsible for the EES inventories, using the latest computer equipment: IBM 402 and 407 accounting machines, and IBM 602 and 604 calculators (punched cards), and had four US and 150 German employees.  The section head, Milt Hornbostel, taught me how to wire boards (control panels).  Unfortunately the EES Commander in Nürnberg decided a year-and-a-half later to have a reduction-in-force (RIF), and since I was the most recent US employee, I had to return to CONUS.  

I left Bremerhaven on the same MSTS ship which brought me to Germany, the USNS General William O. Darby (A-TP-127).  This time, however, I was in the colonel's quarters, since the other American passengers were lower grade school teachers.  I transferred to the Army & Air Force Exchange (AAFES) headquarters, which was then in New York, as Senior Tabulating Operator.  A few months later I was transferred to the Plant Quarantine Division, Agriculture Research Service, U S. Department of Agriculture (PQD-ARS-USDA). 
 I subsequently found that my knowledge of the German language to be very useful in my international jobs (1975-78 and 1982-88), since German is the "secomd language" (much to the sorrow and indignation of the French) in Europe.                                       (Nov.. 24, 2016)



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Al Keali'i Chock,
Sep 26, 2014, 8:46 PM
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Al Keali'i Chock,
Sep 26, 2014, 8:30 PM
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Al Keali'i Chock,
Sep 26, 2014, 8:52 PM
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