(Roughly chronological order, 1982-85)
“Holy shit!” was my reaction when I saw an e-mail in my inbox with the words ‘Frazee’ and ‘Grenada’, back in January, 2006. I knew instantly who it was from: SFC David K. Frazee, my old platoon sergeant in A/50 back in 1983-84. I haven’t heard from anybody I’ve ever been in the military with. Especially not from almost 22 years ago. So, I decided to update my Grenada site, including some of the pictures and stories I heard from SFC Frazee and my other TACCP buddies I’ve since heard from.
2006-08-16: Posted some memories from Mike ‘Smitty’ Smith, who was in the multichannel platoon in 1982.
2006-06-16: Posted some memories from John Wiegman, who was my roommate 1983-84.
Who was the 1SG I would always see digging through the dumpster for cans, with his kids, on Saturday morning?
SFC Frazee: … talking about Norman W. Governor and his famous, “My names Norman W. Governor and if you don’t like it you can suck my dick!”
The 2nd week I was in the company in late July 82, I brought my wife with me when I had to run into the barracks (I was in Command Radio then with SFC Maultsby as PSG) and she saw a wild looking big black guy in torn coveralls dumpster diving by the company for cans. Yes sir!! That was Norman W. Governor, getting some extra bucks. Ass hanging out of his coveralls, and driving an old Ford Fairlane pickup with big decals on the doors that said “FINE GALLO WINE” It was a maroon pickup. Do ya remember that one. The “Guv” made his two sons dumpster dive with him for cans up until they got into their mid-teens and refused to do it.
Definitely as strange 1SG who ruled by the fist and talking shit. Looking back, I can smile at many of his antics. I remember when he actually beat the shit out of a black E-5 from Multichannel Platoon (Willie Cross was his name) who started arguing with Governor in his office. Governor, got up, shut the door, and you heard a lot of banging and screaming. Cross then came out of the office, sniffling and wiping off tears saying, “Yes 1SG, I’m sorry 1SG, it won’t happen again.” Governor than walked out, looked at me and said, “Frazee, you didn’t hear anything did you?”
Standing in formation as 1SG Governor roared four letter words about “who the fuck tipped a drink over on the new pool table in the dayroom?? “Yo momma’s a whore, yo daddy sucks dick, and if you don’t like what I’m sayin’ you can kiss my big black ass!” While the rest of the Company listened in silent fear, all of TACCP was guffawing like hell with Governor glancing over and basically feeding off our laughter. Oh man, we did things in a rather non-military fashion but to this day, I think it was the most effective way to work with all you guys. We provided the best comms support in the Bn.
Strange dude but totally representative of the old “Brown boot” “no-nonsense” “I’ll kick your ass if you don’t agree” school of Airborne Signal. Governor had been a member of the 50th Sig in 66 when it deployed with the 82nd to the Dominican Republic.
He retired in 88-89 as a SGM with close to 30 years service. I saw him several times in the 90’s when I passed through Bragg as he worked in the furniture store in the PX. He still looked the same and talked the same shit. When I told him he still looked the same as he did 10 years previously, he looked at me and asked, “Man, so you think I still look good eh?? Whaddaya want to do, Fuck me??” God, the dude was a trip. In retrospect, I remember him with respect. (2006-02-06 and 2006-02-16)
Mike ‘Smitty’ Smith: 1SG Governor was most definitely a shit talking fool. I remember when he finally got his promotion to E8. He was out in formation with his pay voucher in hand, and grinning from ear to ear … and what a BIG grin that man had! He read the pay voucher to us with emphasis “Man this looks good. Norman W. Governor … FIRST Sergeant!”.
1SG Governor was tough, but I remember him being fair. I remember there being a closet in his office that was empty except for a mop handle. It was rumored that was where Top did his private “counseling” sessions. I remember SGT Willie Cross too, that fat prick. I’m glad The Guv kicked his lard ass!
It seemed that every time we turned around, someone was getting drunk and pissing in the barracks (usually in their bed, or someone else’s), and 1SG Governor would put them in a pup tent in front of the company for a week or two.
Some of my fondest memories from my time there was of “The Guv” and a guy from TACCP that I hung around a lot with, SPC Ron St. John, busted later in 1982 to PFC. 1SG Governor called St. John out in front of formation and proceeded to tell the entire company about St. John pawning some “camping gear” that was actually TA-50. Someone from TACCP yell out “Bust him Top!” and 1SG Governor responded with “You’re goddamned right!” and then proceeded to rant and rave and go on the way that only he could … spraying the guys in the first rank with spit! St. John just stood there at parade rest grinning. St. John was just damned nuts.
I left Bragg in December of 1982 and went to Germany. I will never forget my time in Alpha Company or 1SG Norman W. Governor. Both were an influence on the NCO I was later to become. (2006-08-08)
John Wiegman: [Preston] remember once when I was a newbie, and I went with you somewhere in your car. It was raining hard, but you refused to turn on your wipers, you said it was a challenge. It was dangerous as shet, I couldn’t see a thing. ohh man, I’m smiling. (2006-06-07)
John Wiegman: Paxton. No one could understand the guy when he spoke. Way deep south black guy. I’ll relate a story about him, me, Lemieux, Kilbourn, Sgt. Link, and the 18th Corps jail that I think had been kept secret until this day. Link kept it quiet, as he was on CQ duty for the weekend:
Story: Lonsberry marries Rose, they throw the party at a lake nearby the helicopter base on the other side of Bragg. Kilbourn just bought his famous early ’70’s 260Z with a small-block 400 tucked inside. Side pipes and all. Orange. The car just hauled azz.
Anyway, hard drinking and merriment for all, I remember ‘Dirty’ Ernie there pounding down the liquor, with all others trying to keep up.
Once it winds down, Kilbourn, Lemieux and myself climb inside, sardine style, Xdriver driving back to post. Holy Moly, a school bus full of High School girls along the side of the road.
Of course we stop to ‘help out’, but the bus driver was an old hag and literally chased us away with a broomstick.
Meanwhile, State Trooper arrives, Xdriver loses the keys and begins dismantling the interior looking for his lost keys.
Trooper asks if we’ve been drinking. “No Sir, Sir!” Trooper awaits ahead of us in his car. Xdriver insists on continuing. Trooper takes him in. Lemieux and myself begin the long walk back to 50th Barracks.
Paxton drives by, stops, babbles incoherently as usual, we interpret that he is offering a ride, and get in to his Trans Am. In no time flat, we get stopped by an 18th Abn Corps MP. Paxton had expired tags, and this was the second time around that this same MP stopped Paxton. The MP was a hostile headcase, hauls us all in in cuffs to the slammer.
Sgt Link was on CQ, we call, he picks us up, laughing, shaking his head and promising to keep things quiet given that large numbers of TACCPers were apparently having a very unfortunate day. Later, it comes out that Xdriver, when given his phone call while in the clink, realizes that he knows no phone number for anyone (a relative newbie). So Xdriver merely dials any old number, and then states “Scotty, beam me up.”
The cop apparently got quite angry at that. Xdriver was the coolest. That was early ’83. (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: Kenny [Roberts], will forever be, one of my best friends in memory. We’d just go crazy on those bikes all over, especially on the range roads as they were open and grippy … I’ll never forget racing down Bragg Blvd., and watching him tag the tail of a taxi, I thought he’s get killed. That was after, of course, the time he went off the side of the road And you [SFC Frazee] went to pick up his bike with your van, …and I think, before the time he ran into the curbside after awaiting a light, in front of a Fayetteville cop, who stopped, questioned, and was ready to bust for (remaining quiet here), but was then called out for a higher priority response. Kenny got lucky that time, his one time … (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: Jerry Thomason [would] talk of “6-foot rabbits” and “Indians that outran horses” in Washington State, where he came from. A true character this individual, good friends with Kenny [Roberts]. Thomason left for Bright Star ’83 in uniform with a nametag that read ‘Fantasia’. I have a picture of this. (2006-06-05)
Bright Star ’83
Cairo West and Alexandria, Egypt
Remember when Ronald “E.T.” St. John shit down the corps commander’s personal piss tube?
SFC Frazee: E.T. got off shift, had to take a shit, no shitters nearby and he decided to shit down the 3 inch pisser pipe right next to the TOC. Got caught by the Corps CSM! Bwahahahahah! St. John’s excuse: “I just couldn’t hold it.” He had to dig up the pipe, move it, and scrub all the shit off it. Even Major Jessie Sheon, the 50th Bn XO was dying laughing at that one.
Some more crazy vignettes from our Egypt deployment:
- Bud doesn’t tell Ortiz about the CENTCOM General coming to inspect. Ortiz comes out of bucket shower in a towel with the wind blowing the towel up as Ortiz saluted the general with his genitals dangling!
- Maj Jess Sheon calls me in one night to the BATCON. “Frazee, what the fuck’s going on over at that relay site, there’s all sorts of flames on the hillside!” Called the site on the order wire, no answer. Raced over in A-55 jeep to find out what was going on. Ortiz, Buddenhagen and company were pouring circles of gasoline and lighting them to trap kangaroo rats!
- Drive over to inspect relay site. One young troop is nursing a bruised collar bone and holding back tears. “What Happened I ask??” His response, Ortiz, Buddenhagen and the rest of the crew were having a rock fight outside the tent. Young troop was reading a book on his cot when a rock came through the top of the ARFAB and hit him in the collar bone.
- I show up at the relay site one day to find Buddenhagen prancing around the site with his head totally shaved, nicked up, and nicked up, bellowing, “I’m Mr. B!” (Of course the A-Team was still in syncication in the States)
- The most outrageous is when Lt West, myself, Streib, Bond, and several others snuck into an Egyptian hanagar to check out the aircraft. Streib clambered into the cockpit of an IL-28 (Beagle) light bomber that was on jacks. I got one picture of Steib in the cockpit cigarette dangling from his mouth, elbow jauntily on the sill of the cockpit, when an Egyptian guard came into the hangar about 75 meters away with an Ak-47. He waved his arm and shouted “No, No!” Lt. West looked at me and said, “what should we do?” I responded courageously, “RUN!” We all skedaddled out. That night at the BATCON meeting, Maj. Jess Sheon announced, “The Egyptians are pissed, someone’s been screwing around over in their hangars (as he glared at me).”
- Do you remember the stink when I let Sgt Tom Streib, PVT Joey Provenzano, and a SPC Bond (from Mchan Plt) go downtown to Cairo? They came back shitfaced and got in an altercation with the Egyptian military guards at the gate. What a brouhaha … almost cost me my ass. (2006-03-25)
Preston McMurry: Provenzano was the guy — from Buffalo, or somewhere in New York — that kept getting Article 15s because he wanted to get kicked out because his big Life Dream was to return to his hometown grocery store to work in the produce department.
A couple more Bright Star memories: The LT that played porn videos in the morale tent every night. (Gotta love an officer that takes care of the troops!) … Watching the Egyptians humping a port-a-potty across the airbase on their backs … Getting crabs from the Egyptian port-a-potty … Falling in a shit-filled slit trench and literally walking on air to avoid getting shitty … Drinking chunky “heat proof” milk from the mess tent. I haven’t drunk milk since … Getting a ration of one soda and one beer — the Army sure has changed! — per day and still managing to get drunk by getting back in line a few times, then trading the sodas to tee-totallers … Setting up on a couple hundred foot high sand dune out in the Sahara, then putting up a sign that said “Welcome to Bumfuck, Egypt, Pop. 7” … Getting Pharaoh’s Revenge from eating food from street vendors in Alexandria. I pissed out my ass every hour for eight hours straight … Hanging out in a harbor bar drinking wine bottle sized beers … Travelling across Alexandria in an Egyptian taxi in the middle of the night to get whores with Lewis (?) and wondering if I would get knifed instead. By the way, we accomplished our mission.
Eric Duran: Wow, how this list makes the memories come flooding out. Sgt Danko: (Teaching me how to fill out a 2404) “You will either learn to write neat or your going to have a strong upper body.” Sgt Graves: (Gallant Eagle 84?) “One of the tricks that helps me stay awake is brushing my teeth when I get sleepy.” Sgt Frazee: (after the morning barracks inspection) “If you have to wipe your ass more than 5 times, your ass is too damn hairy, and that’s why the damn latrine is clogged up!” Sgt Pugh: (down at the motor pool) “just put your arms around the drive shaft and you can lay there till lunch.” I have lots more but I’m too lazy to write about it. (2006-02-16)
SFC Frazee: That was Kendall “Killer” Kilbourn screaming “tank, a tank” over the URC as he hid behind a berm at the end of the runway. Then the Ranger’s used one of their antiquated 90mm recoilless rifles to knock it out. I was up in the EOC with you guys when Killer screamed “they got it, they got it” and the entire XVIII Airborne Corps TOC staff cheered like it was a winning touchdown. (2006-01-27)
John Wiegman: Kilbourn and Marriot were on the RDF standby thing for that month’s period when Grenada came up, and they went off on the first day … carrying as much civilian clothing as military. They received Bronze Stars. Kilbourn was extremely competent in his work performance from beginning to end. He never received the recognition in this respect (in general) that he deserved. No one partied better. Absolutely one of the coolest people. (2006-06-05)
SFC Frazee: We had at least 1-2 destroyers laying off Pt. Salines within VHF-FM hailing distance of the Corps TOC in the Grenada Beach Hotel. Unfortunately, the Squids only had one VHF-FM on our freq band. When the 82nd called in a SpotRep that possibly they’d observed a Cuban sub off the north side of Grenada, the Corps TOC called our support destroyer again, and again, with no answer. The BG (newly promoted) that was the Corps (FWD) Commander was hopping on the balcony and screaming, “answer now!!” As we attempted to call the squids, we saw it make steam, and head out to sea. The BG was apoplectic. (2006-03-28)
John Wiegman: Commo was definitely screwy bigtime inter-unit/branch style during Grenada. Wampler was from the crypto shack, but he became one of the guys while we were hanging out in Grenada after all the initial stuff. Used to sail the little two man boats with him a number of times. We also both had a beachside fling with ‘the little chimp.’ Fired off thousands and thousands of surplus AK rounds with him at the firing range there. Kilbourn and him were tight. He eventually went nutz, and was later discharged. (2006-06-05)
SFC Frazee: All the TACCPers slept in the same room (ground floor end of hotel). I know there were at least nine of us sleeping in that one room, less shifts on duty. Merriott and Kilbourn were staying in the old Gov. General’s residence near the center of the City. Do you remember Aiken from Command Radio who when walking around the Grenada Beach Hotel (XVIII Abn Corps deployed) fell into the concertina wire one night and lay twitching calling for help??? (2006-01-29)
SFC Frazee: We were tasked to get a Radio Goat over to the airport to provide additional comms. It was about 2300 at night. We displaced the Radio Goat but had to break the concertina to get out of the XVIII Abn Corps compound at the Hotel. [SSG Keith “Ranger Rob” Robinson] had moved outside the wire to “secure the area” Our guys broke the concertina (triple strand) and we were moving the Goat to the hole when we heard a “Pa-pow”, shots from outside the wire. Everybody hit the deck, Link, driving the goat shut it off. I frog marched along a string of bushes in the shadows and thinking the worst whispered out, “Rob, Rob, are you OK??” From the darkness came a quavering voice, “I’m ok. it’s was me. I’m sorry”. Rob, when outside the wire and half asleep, had his M16 vertically alongside his body and contrary to policy, being the RANGER that he was, had locked and loaded a round. As he leaned up against a coconut palm, he was playing with the selector switch and moved it from SAFE to SEMI. With the 16 vertical alongside his body he then managed to stroke the trigger and pop off two rounds. Now with all of you guys starting to laugh, we hurriedly beat feet and drove the Goat off the compound right as the Guard Force was rushing our way hollering, “what’s goin on”. Rob, with his tough-guy Ranger demeanor never lived that one down. (2006-02-06)
SFC Frazee: We had a little sawed off SFC in A Company who was eventually cashiered after a court martial and sent to Leavenworth for sexually abusing his 13-15 year old step-daughter. Geez, what was his name? You guys detested him when he worked in Co. Operations cause he was a prick with a short man’s chip on his shoulder. When he came back from his Court Martial in his Class A’s (slick sleeve E-1) now, you guys harassed the shit out of him before he shipped out for jail. (2006-02-12)
SFC Frazee: I think the AWOL dude was a guy from Multichannel Plt who was crazy. He deserted and one day during our formation, somebody in Mchan Plt pointed up to guys doing a re-roofing on an adjacent barracks saying, “hey, there he is!” The dude was pouring tar on the roof, barechested and started jumping up and down waving. The 1SG (Vozel I think) called the MP’s. The dude was eventually “escorted” via air to a stockage at Ft. Knox KY and escaped during transport. (2006-02-12)
Who was the guy that got nailed with the pool cue on Xmas eve? I was sitting in my 2nd floor room, when he knocked on my door, asking me if he could sit down. Who was I to say “no”? Especially with him bleeding everywhere.
SFC Frazee: Who was that madman? It was David Bauer, one of our TACCP guys, who was in the wire/phone Section. He was a total juicer.
When I came in after the CQ called, you and a few others explained what had happened and told me the dude was up in his room. The whole thought of this dick disturbing my Christmas eve pissed me off. I grabbed a bunch of the guys, including Billie Kabelka, a steroid using muscle head, and we swarmed up to the 2nd floor. I knocked on the guy’s door and he came out peacefully, obviating the need for us to kick his ass. He then proceeded to cry. I can remember at the time I found it both alarming and amusing.
He had blood matted all over his head. He was jealous because the girl was showing interest in Robert Taylor from Command Radio. Bauer got real drunk and then made a move at the girl over the pool table. She neatly reversed the cue stick and popped him on the back of his head. I remember the blood stains on the pool table.
We ended up calling the MP’s and the most amusing element of the whole snafu was the guy being frog-marched out the door by the MP’s, hands cuffed behind him, looking over his shoulder at us, waving his hands and screaming “merry christmas” … (2006-02-12)
John Wiegman: Wherever Kabelka went, ‘Ka’Barlow was sure to go. I did go over to Kabelka’s trailer a few times. Kabelka always had really hot women around, and these gals in turn always had slutty friends on standby. I was sad to see Kabelka go … the place was a harem. (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: A weird guy who gave everyone the heebie-jeebies. Gillen and Barrow would remember him as Gillen once saw him shaving his privates in the barracks shower and kinda freaked out. As for Barrow, he’d come up to me from time to time in the Motor Pool saying: “Sgt Wiegman, …you have to, …you’ve gotta, …keep me, you gotta keep me away from him, …or I will, I will keeal him.” (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: The chubby guy may be the guy who grew up in Fayetteville. Can’t remember his name, but Pope would know as he came from Fayetteville also. Ate Thanksgiving dinner with hs family, 1984. I’m thinking his last name began with a C, but I may be wrong. Took the Gamma Goat over a motorcycle track at Fort Stewart during some exercise with this guy. That Gamma Goat ran that track extremely well given the 6WD and center pivot. I was having a blast while chubby guy was scared sheetless. Really, the Gamma Goat made good time on that track. If Kenny was there, we’d have been racing the thing all day long. (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: Sgt ??? redneck from 82nd, he constantly had a massive wad of chew in his mouth, even while in full NBC/MOPP gear. We asked him how he was getting by without his chew now, hours now inside of our gear, so he merely pulls up his mask, and spits out a mouthfull of brown slobber. (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: A guy named Baker. He had blond hair, was in TACCP few just a few months in ’85, and was the epitomy of a shamer. NO ONE was as lazy and worthless and constantly seeking ways to avoid any type of work or responsibility than Baker. He shortly went off to Brigade to be a driver for somebody there. He was damn good at backing up the trailers though, he was the best at that. (2006-06-05)
John Wiegman: My days with TACCP are some of the fondest of my days. Such truly real world, serious stuff we were tasked for regularly. I was at my best during the Palmerola days. I should have re-upped, permanent party Palmerola … Went back to Hondo in 1996 looking for an old fling there in Comayagua who was hot as fire, a little hussy named Gloria. Mostly just wanted to follow up on her, see what happened. Gillen remembers her. Comayagua, after the GI’s generally pulled out of Palmerola, reverted back to the sleepy town it once was. The famous “Juaco’s” disco was now a small food store. Found a guy who was one of the little kids who would hang around at the time (’85) who remembered both me and Gloria. He said she married another Hondo type and went to Tegucigalpa. So I went up to La Ceiba. Had a blast, a party town, plenty of ex-pats from the US/Canada/Europe. Got along very well with these guys, related to their attitudes. Mostly those who are wanted or unwanted back home. Truly a Hemingway-esque type of place. Stayed for months, then went down to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia. In 2000, got lucky with a sexy Nica who was actually a Contra fighter back in the day. Saw what looked like a bullit hole scar on her leg, and she said “ahhh si…” I remember when you retired Dave, you said “They just don’t understand John, they just don’t understand.” You hit the nail on the head. In some way, I never really put it all away, something never really disappeared inside. You were an excellent Platoon Sergeant Dave. I was extremely lucky to be placed in TACCP during those years. (2006-06-05)
SFC Frazee: A couple of you commented on the high percentage of TACCP guys that stayed career in the Army. TACCP was a strange crew, but most turned out OK. I may have missed some but it looks like a total of about 1 E-9, 8 E-8’s, at least one E-7, along with McMurry becoming a commissioned officer in the Reserves. Geez, just in career time that probably runs up to nearly 300 years. A lot of giving.
How the heck did our cast of misfits generate so many first sergeants?
All good guys. Hard workers who gave a shit. Many got out, then came back in … The only thing I can figure on guys staying in, and making the grades is that the 50th was a fairly unique unit, being Airborne, and unlike the 82nd Sig which perenially abused it’s folks, was for the most part fun. TACCP in particular had a “separateness” from even the Battalion with our fly-away missions providing URC support long-term to Grenada, and the CTF in Honduras. (2006-03-24)