On Friday (the 30th), Stilla, William and I drove to Schwabach.
The plan was to spend the day sight-seeing around some of my old familiar U.S. Army workplaces. Schwabach and then Katterbach. I was in the 1st Armored Division, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 1st Regiment of Dragoons or 1-1 CAV for short, from 1981 to 1989. Most of those years were spent at O’Brien Barracks in Schwabach until the unit moved to Katterbach in ’87 or ’88. I can’t remember for sure exactly when without digging up some old paperwork, which I’m not in a position to do right now. Anyway, follow along:
Here we are driving up to the main gate to O’Brien Barracks (below).
There’s a traffic circle there now right in front of the old entrance with a giant ‘push-pin’ stuck in the middle. I guess that’s what you call ‘art’.
Here’s what the entrance used to look like back in the day (below). Photo courtesy of www.nbg-mil-com.de/Obrien/ob-kamienski.htm.
We drove around the old base… only a handful of the old buildings are left. I believe that the U.S. Army turned the base back over to the Germans back in ’92. Now it’s a mixture of non-military residential and industrial buildings.
There’s only a couple of the old barracks buildings left on the back side of post (above). The 1-1 CAV actually switched sides of the base sometime in the mid-80’s with the other tenant unit which was 2-59 ADA (Air Defense Artillery) back then.
This old picture (below) was taken in the same area as seen (above). The big green fence in the background was meant to be a sort of sound barrier for the German houses on the outskirts. Wish I knew what happened to this old pal (below)… his last name was Collins. Never heard from him again after I drove him to the airport.
This road (below) used to be the back gate to the base. Kind of strange seeing it all opened up like this. We only used this gate when we took the tanks and tracked vehicles out.
Here’s a few more buildings that some of my old Army buddies may remember:
I think there used to be small swimming pool in this open area (below) in front of the Chapel and Gym.
This was the old Gym entrance (below).
First building when entering the main gate (below). This was also my very first barracks as a young private. View is from the street heading north, main gate is to the right at the end of the building. There used to be two of these barracks buildings, end to end.
Same building, looking south.
Old motor pool doors on the north (right) side of the road after entering the main gate. I remember when they built this.
Same view (below) from the same spot as above back in the early-mid ’80s. I owned this ’72 Nova for a short time.
Another view (early ’80’s) of my old Nova with the old 1-1 CAV motor pool in the background. This was immediately to the right after coming through the main gate.
This is what those motor pool bays (above) look like now (below).
And this picture (below) shows what used to be the old Recreation Center building.
Here’s the same view (below) from the early to mid 80’s. By-the-way; you can just make out Stilla sitting in the orange BMW behind the Nova 🙂
Here’s looking back at my old barracks building from the same vantage point (below). This is the first building on the left when coming in the main gate… it also happens to be the Museum now.
Once again, same vantage point (below). I guess I was trying to capture all the bondo work on the old Nova back then with my pictures 🙂 You can just make out the main gate guard shack in the left background below. The barracks was clearly undergoing an external renovation as it appears from the scaffolding.
Here’s what the main gate looks like now as viewed from the inside looking out. That white framed doorway on the right used to be the Provost Marshall (MPs) office back in the day.
We drove back out the main gate to get something to eat before visiting the Museum. Anybody that’s ever been to O’Brien Barracks remembers the Mike’s Pizza Shops outside the gate. At one point in time there were as many as three of them. I remember that one of them even had a dirt floor for a time before they put up a new building. They made a lot of money off us GI’s back then and were everyone’s stopping point before coming back on base after a night out on the town.
We pulled around and parked on the road just outside the gate to go visit one of the two remaining Mike’s Pizza Shops.
I remember walking down this street to go downtown. There used to be a big chain-link fence along this walkway. I think I’m standing where the old telephone booth used to stand.
Here’s a sign that references the Stadtmuseum that we’ll go into shortly. But first we gotta get some food…
We walked into Mikes Original Pizza (←link) for a little taste of times gone by. Hope I got the link to the right Mike’s 🙂
I had the good ol’ toasted Submarine Sandwich. Tasted just like old times 🙂
William had a pasta dish, and Stilla tried the schnitzel.
After filling up, we walked over to the Museum. Which, as I mentioned earlier, is in the same building as my first barracks room.
We paid the 5 Oreo (er… Euro) per person entrance fee.
The payment counter (above) doubles as an espresso counter, it appears this entrance was added to the side of the building along with an elevator shaft. Immediately after the counter and the new construction, I came upon the old entranceway (below) I used as a private back in 1981. Sure brings back memories.
There was a small toy train display just after the entrance in the new area (museum extension) that was built in 2009 onto the outside of the old barracks. We checked out the trains and displays before going upstairs.
More north stairwell pics: I had to wonder if the paint was still from my time.
I remember walking up these stairs many, many times:
We didn’t spend much time on the 1st and 2nd floors. The first floor had some history on Schwabach with a lot of displays about gold and metal processing, wire/cable making, and needles. All of which had a lot to do with the historical growth and industrialization of the old town.
The second floor consisted of artwork and lots of fabergé eggs on display:
Upstairs window view on what used to be an open quadrangle where we held formations, had PT (Physical Training), and even parked our cars. For the few of us that had cars back then in the early ’80’s.
This used to be the Schwabach Recreation Center. I remember there used to be a really great snack bar upstairs that served awesome egg McMuffin type sandwiches. Yummm.
This old picture (below) shows the same building from the other side of the quadrangle. This pic was on the wall upstairs in the museum (timeframe unknown).
Anyway… on to the third floor…
The military display was to the right at the top of the south stairwell. Exactly how I remembered going to my old barracks room! Although, the museum had the south stairwell blocked, we had to go up and down the north stairwell only.
Some signs tacked on the wall from the old Community Club and the last Army unit (I guess) that occupied the building.
Some of the old alcoves in the hallway still have the rifle butt indentations (below) from the original 1935 building. Of course, we never used these as weapon racks because we had an arms room in the cellar, but they always served well for sitting around on while talking in the hallways.
Same old floor… I remember cleaning this waffle floor during GI parties.
The museum put up a partition in the middle of the hallway on the south side so traffic would have to go through the rooms. The museum cut doorways between rooms on the inside.
You have to enter the first room on the left after turning right at the top to the stairs. I’m telling you all this for a reason… the second door on the left was my old room! What are the odds that after ~35 years, they would turn my old barracks room into a military museum!?! My door was one of only two or maybe three doors that were still in place and had the old numbers on them.
Same old floor tiles from 1981…
This is the first museum tour room.
And after you pass through the displays set up in the rooms on the left, you come out in the last room on the left by the window (below). I walked back up to the hallway partition and voila! My old room door is here on the left!
Room 306. We used to have 4 people per room back then.
Alright guys… you’ve had your fun. Let me back in now 🙂
Here’s what the other side of that door looked like back in 1981 (below).
Entrance to the bathrooms and showers on the other side of the hallway at the south end by the window.
Apparently, the bathroom stalls have been removed and it was transformed into some sort of medical office display.
The sinks have also been removed and displays put up.
Looking south from the 3rd floor window at the end of the building. There used to be a second barracks building here. The HHT CDR and 1SG offices were on the 1st floor.
New construction going on in the old quadrangle (below).
The old flagpole (below) from 1981 or ’82 used to be about where the construction crane is in the pic above.
This was the view (below) looking out the third floor barracks window onto town circa. 1981-82. That’s the street we parked on earlier when we ate at Mike’s Pizza Shop. These windows are now blocked with the museum extension that was built in 2009.
Back inside my old room (below). The door is just behind the partition on the right. That cut out door on the left didn’t used to be there… that’s where my bunk was.
Looks like they didn’t keep up with the floor polishing over the years 🙂 I’m positive these are same tiles I polished with a buffer in ’81. No telling how long they were there before that.
Here’s the museum display in my old room:
The inside of my old door is hidden behind that cupboard (below).
I spotted some of the old pink wall color behind the radiator. Don’t ask me why our room was painted pink… it was that way when I got there. I think we can thank an old NCO buddy of mine who should probably remain nameless; Gary Blackburn 🙂
Here’s some of the other rooms museum display(s):
Yup… I remember the old coat racks, dial phones, and metal key boxes.
Period correct desk. One of these used to be set up in the 1st floor hallway at the top of the stairs for CQ duty.
Remember these? Field desk (below). The cover comes off the front to cover the drawers and sets up on the side for a table surface.
And a good old field table. These folding table could sure take some abuse.
If you don’t know what these are, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog post… or maybe you’ve read too far already !?! 🙂
MRE’s Meals Ready to Eat. Amazing how good the spaghetti can be after heating on an engine exhaust header for a while.
Model of the old Kaserne was in one of the alcoves in the hallway.
Historical photos (below) posted on the wall in the museum:
We finally continued our tour after spending a long time on the 3rd floor around my old barracks room. What a treat that was 🙂
We walked on up to the attic. I’d forgotten about these sinks that were at the top of the stairs… we used to clean the mud off our boots, etc., at these sinks. The metal guard flips up when not in use.
The museum turned the entire attic into a Fleishmann Toy display:
The museum was well worth the 5 Euro entrance fee. Lots of memories… most of them good 🙂
We drove on to Katterbach next, to see if we could drive through the Army Air Field there.
Stilla and I moved to Katterbach and lived in Government housing in nearby Ansbach after the 1-1 CAV moved there sometime in 1988 before I went to Warrant Officer School in 1989. And then once again, I had the opportunity to be stationed in Katterbach in 2002-2005 after a tour in Schweinfurt. The last time I was here, it was with the 601st Support Battalion and I was a Chief Warrant Officer 3 and then promoted to 4. (CW3/4). When I left Katterbach previously in 1989 it was as an E5, Sergeant. I finally made the cutoff score for E6 Staff Sergeant just as I was accepted to go to the Warrant Officer School. The School, I remember, was like basic training all over again (on steroids). One could probably liken it to the movie ‘Officer and a Gentleman’ 🙂
My old unit motor pool (601st SPT) was just on the left in the pic below.
Here’s a throwback picture of me in my office there (below), circa. 2004.
The old 1st Armored Division NCO Academy building (in the 80’s):
Main gate to the aviation-side of the base.
Main gate to the administration and wheeled-vehicle side of base. The gate guard turned us around and told us we have to enter the base from a back gate. He gave us directions.
We found the back gate but still couldn’t get in because our ID cards weren’t registered in their system 🙁 We’d have to go back to yet another gate and into an office to register. We decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.
I snapped a few more pictures as we drove down the main road that separates both sides of the Army base:
Gasthaus next to the Katterbach Army Air Field.
We drove on into Ansbach to a little sightseeing.
Ansbach didn’t seem to have changed much. Of course, it’s only been ~10 years (2005) when we were last here.
We drove by the old government housing buildings we lived in back in 1989 but they have a gate guard there now as well. So we just snapped a picture as we drove by outside the fenced in area. We used to live in the white building in the middle, although it was only for a short time.
We stopped for a short visit with an old friend while we were in Ansbach and then headed on back home to Sindersdorf. It was a nice day going down the old memories trail.
Check back for New Year Celebration activities… then it’s only 11 more days before we fly back to Arizona to get the Urban Escape Vehicle back on the road 🙂