41st Veteran of the Quarter, John Edward Harrison, US Army

December 1, 2020

At 23 years of age, John Edward Harrison was drafted into the United States Army on December 3, 1957.  His time spent in the service was shortly after the Korean War Conflict and just before Vietnam.  He went through Basic Training at Fort Carson, Colorado in Colorado Springs. After Carson, He was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington (Tacoma) for another 8 weeks of training to be a combat engineer.  After Fort Lewis, He was sent to HeilBronn, Germany. The Army sent him over on a troop ship – 9 days on the water from New York, leaving his young wife of 2 years was the hardest thing he ever did. He wanted to jump overboard as he watched the Statue of Liberty fade away.

Harrison’s primary assignment in Germany was to stay physically fit and attend bridge building training, which included building float bridges. They built float bridges across the Rhine River in an hour and 52 minutes – a record at the time. They also built foot bridges. They were in the field several times, on alert each month. This was during the Cold War, Nikita Khrushchev was the Russian President, and Harrison along with his unit believed that they could be in war with Russia at any moment.  Harrison’s wife was told that in event that war broke out, she would have to get out of Germany the best way that she could, while scared to death.

Harrison held a German-American Army Driver’s License, driving a 2.5 ton troop movement truck on trips to the field.  He also drove a 40-passenger bus where he even had to opportunity to drive the Army baseball team to Nancy, France for 2 games. His wife, Kathy got to attend with other Army wives.

Harrison and his wife, Kathy lived on the German income of $137.10 a month, of which, $50 a month went to a German couple who rented us a 1-room, shared kitchen. They were broke most of the time and looked forward to getting a letter from Kathy’s mother as she sometimes sent a couple of dollars. They had to always be careful of their actions as not all Germans liked the Americans.

Also while in service, Harrison helped build an Officer’s Confidence Course while in Munich, Germany, where Hitler had a stronghold, referred to as Eagle’s Nest, near Garmisch, where they also skied in 1959.

Harrison received Good Conduct Medals, Sharpshooter Medals, and several schooling and training medals. The weapons he mastered, include: M-1 grenades, M-1 carbine, 45 cal. Grease fun, 30 cal. Machine gun, 50 cal. Machine gun, 106 Jeep-mounted howitzer.

In total, Harrison served the United States Army in Germany from 1957-1959 and thereafter he served in the Reserves another six years.


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