My War Story

(C) Copyright 1990, 1998 Robert Osband

I was a Communications Center Specialist (a glorified telex operator) in the US Army, stationed in Kaiserslautern Germany. It was a city of 100,000 with a large Army supply depot, and therefore, a large contingent of Army personnel.

32nd AADCOMM Patch

94th Arty Gp Unit Crest Pin
Hook up a TTY
to Linux
Being stationed in Germany led to my being a Volunteer for World Cup USA 94.
I was with the 94th Artillery Group (which became the 94th ADA Brigade), which reported to the 32d Army Air Defense Command, or 32nd AADCOM (pronounced "Add- com). Our Comm Center had four teletype machines. One from the 32nd AADCOM, and to one each of the line batteries below us in the chain of command, which had missiles ready to shoot at any threats (aircraft coming across the eastern border of then West Germany). Needless to say, these batteries of missiles, and therefore the communications stations along the chain of command, had to operate 24 hours a day.

Things get slow on Sunday mornings. How slow was it? It was so slow, that you didn't want to pick up the Playboy magazines, because you've even read the articles too many times.

One Sunday morning, my buddy and I are shuffling papers, and trying to think of something to do to fill the time, when 8AM came around, and Big John & Sparky came on American Forces Network on the AM radio. This is how bad things are on a Sunday. We actually kept it on, and listened to the weekly kiddies program!

On this particular Sunday, about 20 minutes after 8, the teletype started up, and my buddy and I eagerly ran to it, thankful for something to do (remember, I told you it was that bad).

"AND MATE    AND MATE WE HAVE TRAFFIC FOR YOU    ARE U READY TO COPY???"   Chattered the teletype machine. No one could tell me where this "AND MATE" business started, it was just local tradition, and one doesn't mess with what works tradition in the military. Just as this was coming over, though, Big John & Sparky on the radio started up the weekly radio serial episode of "Captain Jupiter of the Space Patrol". I'd been listening for weeks. I mean what else do you do on a Sunday morning. Even if you're off duty?

Damn it, I'd probably miss most of the episode due to the noise of the teletype, but heck, it was what they were paying me for. I sat down at the keyboard and typed, "AND MATE   AND MATE    READY FOR YOUR MESSAGE TRAFFIC   GA GA GA", and with the Go Ahead signal, I turned on the paper tape punch to capture the incoming traffic which would undoubtedly have to be forwarded to the line batteries.

Nothing happened. I checked the wires, the switches, and the Black Boxes. All seemed set right, but 32nd AADCOM wasn't coming back. "AND MATE   AND MATE    READY FOR YOUR TRAFFIC PLS   GA GA".

Nada. Zip. Nothing at all. OK, I've got to stop and think this out. What could be going on over there that would make them stop transmitting. Well, what was happening over here at the same time? I mean, we usually get the same power failures they get, since we're just across town from each other, but I knew the power was on, because I could hear the radio - and then it hit me. Of course. I'd figured out exactly what the problem was. I got on the teletype, and sent, "OK MATE, WE'LL WAIT TIL AFTER CAPTAIN JUPITER".

The teletype started right up with the reply. "RGR RGR MATE   HE'S ABOUT TO GET BIG BLACKIE   CANT SHOOT TRAFFIC NOW   C U N 5". Well, after all. Just what else do you do on a Sunday morning? And I guess the traffic wasn't critical, if it could wait 5 minutes. (CUN5=See You In 5)

While stationed in Kaiserslautern, I attended a soccer match (they call it Football over there, and in the rest of the world outside the US). I credit that match with leading me into being a Volunteer at the FIFA World Cup USA 1994™. You might want to read that too.

The author,
Robert Osband
 is a member of
The HTML Writers Guild

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last updated: 2017-12-30 13:11 UTC

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