It was 1976 and I was on my first Field Problem.
A Field Problem was an exercise where our Army group (and sometimes many other Army groups) were sent out into the Germany countryside to provide communications for Army forces practicing their job of killing people.
Our equipment could be used in a couple of ways:
One way was where the 36C20 people would connect all those field phones to a Patch Panel truck and, from there, to our equipment. We would take the signals and send them on, via our radios, to other 31M20 people like us. This meant our truck was parked in among a lot of other trucks and people etc. It's OK because that meant we usually had hot meals on occasion instead of bowel-stopping C-Rations.
Another way was where we were dispatched to some remote hill top to relay signals from one radio truck in one valley to another radio truck in another valley. I preferred this because my team and I sometimes ended up in some very picturesque places. We were also usually the only Army people there so we could afford to let our hair down (what hair?). These pictures show such an occasion.
We ended up on top of some monstrous mountain and set our equipment up inside some old castle ruins. As in most mountaintops, the local valley residents have trails all around the mountains and some of these trails led to this castle. The German government had rebuilt a bit of the castle, adding some stairs and such and a railing around the tallest part of the castle walls.
We set up the truck and added camouflage to keep the bad guys from seeing it, tossed the antennas on the castle walls, and settled in for a few days.
Alan Huber was the team leader and Mark Sefton was my fellow grunt on this trip. Alan had been in the Army longer than Mark or I so was smart enough to spend as much time sleeping as he could, knowing full well that time for sleep was usually curtailed in order to get our job done.
Mark and I, on the other hand, spent a lot of time tending the equipment and generators and such, as well as exploring the castle.
One thing I distinctly remember about Germany is the beauty of the countryside. As you wind your way through the Field Problem photos, you may notice that nearly all of the human presence in Germany is concentrated in the valleys. Usually a small village in the bottom of the valley, with fields extending around it. As the land steepens towards the mountains, the farmland abruptly stops and the remaining land up to the top of the mountain range lets way to a forest of trees. This treed area is often crisscrossed with a myriad of walking paths. It was not at all unusual to have German citizens pass by us on their walks along these trails. Usually a friendly wave was passed between them and us though sometimes the friendliness was glaringly absent.
On one such occasion, I was actually spat on by an obviously enraged and aged local woman. Humbling experience, that was.
By the way, I am not completely sure that the last photo, showing a very high vantage point, belongs with this set of photos. It was in with the other photos, though, so I am including it.
Perhaps my day will be made and Mark or Alan will email me and let me know where this last photo really belongs.