I was excited when I first arrived at Fischbach bei Dahn, the German town in which the 64th Ordnance Company was located. I just turned 18 years old, and I felt as if I was on an adventure to explore the unknown in foreign country. At first, I was gung-ho, and tried to walk that straight path by following every Army protocol properly, adhering to procedures of personal appearance and dress, and carrying myself as a representative of the U.S. Army in Germany.
My mindset was straight…for a while. And by a while, I mean the first few weeks. What I discovered at the 64th Ordnance Company was that we were on the very outskirts of the entire 59th Ordnance Brigade; a small 200 person depot on 1500 acres on the border of France. The town Fischbach was miles away, and if a soldier did not have personal transportation, they had to rely on a bus that showed up every few hours to take soldiers to Pirmasens, the city in which the 197th Battalion Headquarters was located, and where all the action was. I learned that being stuck on a depot in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do after 5pm could get a soldier in trouble. And by trouble, I mean alcohol. And lots of it.
I did not think anything of it at first. Everyone was drinking in the EM (Enlisted Members) club after work. We would order pizza, and sit around drinking until late evening. At the beginning, this was only on the weekends for me. After months of being stationed there, my drinking became an everyday occurrence. We would leave the secure site at 4pm, go eat chow, take a shower and change clothes, then start drinking. It got to the point where I was drinking every day of the week, waking up in the morning still drunk or hanging-over, doing PT, then heading to the secure site. It was eating me alive, and I knew it. There were others like me, all young men and women who were stationed at the edge of the Brigade’s AOR, stuck at a place with little to no recreational activities except for alcohol. Usually with alcohol comes the related problems of arguing, physical violence and broken relationships.
One of my Warrant Officers told me that I was heading down the wrong path. I was hanging around with the wrong people; the troublemakers and those who won’t complete an entire enlistment. I looked at him like he was a prudish Debbie-Downer. What did he know? I was 18, and I had everything figured out. Later, his words rang true when some of my friends were discharged for various reasons, most concerning alcohol. Towards the end of my time at Fischbach, especially when there were only 2 of us left (nuke-techs) and we were transferred to Muenchweiler Depot to wait for our ETS (my case) or PCS (his case) did the Warrant Officer’s words finally penetrate my thick skull. I slowed down with the drinking, and started to take life more seriously.
In retrospect, there were so many other activities I could have accomplished if I had moderated my alcohol use. I could have hunted for Roman and Celtic artifacts in the hills around Fischbach. I could have also became more involved in the German art scene. I am only happy that I followed that certain WO’s advice. Alcohol and me due not get along anymore, and have’t since the early 1990s.
I am still planning on digging up artifacts in Fischbach and the neighboring areas in the near future. I will then make up for lost time.