From the archives, 1969: Mud, cold, fog hamper Carbide Ice
Stars and Stripes June 27, 2022
This article first appeared in the Stars and Stripes Europe edition, Jan. 31, 1969. It is republished unedited in its original form.
WITH BLUE FORCE IN EXERCISE CARBIDE ICE — Dual-based troops of the 24th Inf Div struggled across an unfamiliar countryside Thursday and the soldiers were engaged with their traditional enemies — cold and dampness.
"I couldn't go to sleep because 11 of us were jammed in this damn truck all night while it was stuck in the snow over there," said Spec. 4 Phillip Perkins of Oakland, Calif.
"The clutch went out and the tow-truck just left us stranded there all night.
"This is a messhall track, but we haven't had anything to eat this morning," said Perkins, a cook for Bravo Co, 1st Bn, 34th Inf. "I could get those burners going and make some coffee, but they keep telling us to get ready to move out."
Rain showers, fog, snow and temperatures that hovered around freezing plagued the maneuver Carbide Ice.
Lt. Col. Edward J. Nix, an Army briefing officer, said 38 men have been hospitalized with colds and other ailments derived from the winter weather. So far, there had been only one serious injury, he said. A man fell from the top of a tank and banged his head. He was being treated for concussion.
The commanders were fighting a big war, which stretched across Upper Franconia, as the defending Blue Force pulled back toward Hersbruck, while trying to delay the invasion of Orange troops from the east. The enlisted men seemed mostly concerned, however, with bodily comforts and with finding out where to go next.
Nix said Army vehicles in the maneuver had five accidents, all minor, on Wednesday. He said three companies of men being used to repair damage to the farm country were kept busy removing mud which had been deposited on paved roads by tracked vehicles.
The Air Force flew 82 sorties Wednesday in support of both sides.
Down the road between Woppertahl and Schwendt, a soldier with a map was trying to get directions to Frechetsfeld. Two other men waited in a jeep.
“We went out that way once and couldn't find it” he said.
“We must have made a wrong turn.”
“What's at Frechetsfeld?” he was asked.
“I don't know. They just told me that is where I am going,” he replied.
Second Lt. Tom Davis of Las Vegas, Nev., a member of 1st Bn, 34th Inf, said, "The movement has been incessant.
“Yesterday morning, we were about 20 kilometers northeast of here and we've been moving since then,” he said. “More than likely we'll be moving all day today. We don't have any problems except it's just cold.”
Capt. Thomas Mitchell of Los Angeles, Calif., a doctor in the field with the soldiers, said some medical supplies have been slow getting through.
"We are having a hard time getting our supply channels set up," he said. "We need medicines for colds and coughs — that's what everybody has got."
Mitchell said his medical outfit was pretty well off at night because they could sleep in litters intended for wounded and could stay off the ground.
“We finally got our heater going,” he said. “It was out the first day. It's awfully hard to stay dry in this weather. Your boots and socks get wet but, so far, I haven't seen any frostbite”
Pfc. Robert Cheatum of Little Rock, Ark., a mortarman, said this is his first trip to Germany but he doesn't think he will get to see anything outside the maneuver area.
“I just want to get back to Ft. Riley, Kansas,” he said.
Four miles east of Schwendt, a Blue unit was under attack from Orange men. The Blues blocked the road with armored personnel carriers (APCs) to stop the assault and the sound of blank rifle fire rattled across the snowbound hills.
A German woman selling gasoline at a crossroads station nearby said the soldiers didn't bother her.
We don't mind," she said. "The buergermeister said we could get money for any damage they do, but so far there has been no damage that I know of."
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