Operation Footlocker Memory: Where Are You From?

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October 28, 1961 Benjamin Franklin Village Bulletin

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Memories of Mom in Post-War Germany

May 6th, 2016 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day–here’s a memory about an incredible military wife–and mom.

By James Kenderdine.

Postcards from when our family was stationed in Germany, 1947-1950. One of my last memories of Germany was when we were getting ready to leave in 1950, stopping on the Autobahn north of Frankfurt and getting out of the car to look south at what was left of the city. Rolling small hills (made of rubble) covered with grass and brush all the way to the center of the city. I could see the ruins of the cathedral in the center of the city from where I stood. When I stood in the same spot again in 1977, all I could see was the city that had been built since 1950, I could not see any part of the cathedral.

Our years in Germany shaped the lives of everyone in our family in ways that, 65 years later, my sister and I are still coming to understand and appreciate. My guess is that any spouse or brat who did not take the Army’s offer of evacuation during the Berlin Airlift feels that same. My mother said she was not leaving, that, in old army terms, “I can stay the winter, no matter how bad it is.” Watching her learn to shoot and MI carbine was fantastic, and to this day, I can still clearly see the image of her carbine, with a 20 round clip in it, round in the chamber, hanging by its sling next to her and dad’s bed. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Become of OP INDIA?

by Circe Olson Woessner


In 2014, a man named Reiner contacted me after I posted a memory piece and some photos about the 3/11 ACR families stationed in Bad Hersfeld, West Germany right before the fall of the Iron Curtain. He asked if he could reuse some of the blog photos because he was working on a special project in his home town in Germany. I immediately sent him several, and just recently, I e-mailed him a couple more.

I really liked this one, and wanted to share it:



In September, 2015, Reiner he replied, saying,

“Thank you so much for the two photos. My small collection of pictures and information about OP-India and the region until its closure in 1990, has progressed very well. We have checked the tower in the meantime, and our municipality wants to ensure the restoration. In the observation room, we are… a large number of many images exhibit to document the life here during the Cold War.

 So should you have more pictures, please send them to me via email.

 Thanks again for your trouble.

 Greetings from Lüderbach in central Germany

Because I, too, am in the process of creating a museum (the Museum of the American Military Family) I asked him if he had any photos from OP India showing the renovation progress–

He replied,

 “Thank you for your e-mail. In the appendix you can find 2 pictures of the clean up this March. It was not a nice weather, it snowed lightly. We have cleaned up the former observation room. Everything from the walls, floor and ceiling. Thus, only the pure concrete is still left. By the way, the man with the broom in brown overalls, that’s me. Today we have had a meeting to coordinate further action. We have to open the target of the tower and the trail involved next year. I will continue to take pictures and send them to you.

 Greetings from the beautiful Lüderbach

 As the renovations continue, I will continue to post updates—and show photos.

Here are the links to the Lüderbach website and Facebook page.



If anyone has photos of OP INDIA and would like to help Reiner with this project, please email them to:







The most spontaneous day of my youth

The first long weekend of my senior year at London Central, our school offered a field trip to Dover…. as in the famous “white cliffs of Dover.” It was an amazing weekend. We went to a flight museum; we saw Stonehenge; we visited a safari type zoo; we stayed at a hostel. Actually, aside from the flight museum, I had not done ANY of the items we did that weekend. I’d lived in England for over two years and not made it to one of its most famous landmarks – Stonehenge. This was back when you could still walk among the stones — on a specific path, of course, but we could still get close.

However, what I remember most of that amazing trip was the time we spent at the channel.

The White Cliffs of Dover face the English Channel. And while I had crossed that channel many times since moving to England, visiting France and Holland, those expeditions had always been on the big ferries or hover crafts. When we got down to that little sea side area, there was a place where we could rent a rowboat. My friends and I did just that. There were four of us that day who rowed out in the boat, heading towards the buoy that signaled one mile. We wanted to get out to that buoy. Read the rest of this entry »

A Return to Fort Davis 2005 in the former Panama Canal Zone

by Hudson Phillips

Fort Davis is referred to as “Davis,” or in local dialect, “Dah-vees.” (Roads into Davis are unmarked.) The former military base is still “present,” but, to keep this in military terms, it is “not accounted for.” Former officer and non-commissioned quarters are now the homes of Panamanians and some new homes and condos have been constructed on the former military base. Local residents are, generally, very helpful in giving travel directions but it is always important to remember that you are a stranger in what is now THEIR neighborhood. Our visit included 88 year old Col. Ernie Nelson ret. (A former Post Chaplain at Davis in the ‘50s), and his daughter, Karen. I represented, my father Col. Hudson Phillips, now deceased. (former Protestant chaplain at Davis at the beginning of World War II) and his family. Fort Davis experienced many changes during and since the periods that we had lived on the Post and it took us some time make adjustments.

The old post theater was our beginning point. The movies that I saw there as a child are now hailed as “cinema classics”: Beau Geste, King Kong, Citizen Kane and so many others. The classy art deco building is recognizable today, though in a terrible state of neglect. Some of us remember the days when a special bugle call summoned people to the evening feature from all points of Fort Davis. Most walked to the movies and that path is ingrained in their minds. Karen realized that, when she lived at Davis, she could see the theater from her house. Though doctored and embellished by landscapers and carpenters, the location of the house is apparent. Chaplain Nelson got out of the car and straightened up to his full 6’2. It was clear that he was becoming a colonel again. With a little more effort we found Karen’s other home and the Post swimming pool. The gym was around the corner. Karen had been in some kind of competition at the time she had lived there so we both peered in and imagined the thousands of basketball games and the oceans of sweat. We continued to push for MORE, MORE. Read the rest of this entry »

Climbing to Such Heights

by Hudson Phillips

Dan Bunting was a few years ahead of me, but lived at Fort Davis, CZ, and attended the same elementary school in Gatun. He tracked me down via the Brat network about twelve years ago and he left me with a story that needs to be told.

In 1940 Franklin Roosevelt, our President, toured the Panama Canal to inspect the readiness of our defense installations that were guarding the Canal. The men of the 14th Infantry were posted one each side of the road that led from the port of Cristobal to our base at Fort Davis, as a sort of honor guard to protect him during his visit.As the President was approaching in his car, Dan Bunting and a friend were up on one of those Terracotta scalloped roofs about three stories up, and they were clamoring for a good view. What they saw was an entourage of security leading an open car and the familiar sight of the President who was waving and smiling as he was so often pictured in the newsreels. But, suddenly the procession stopped, and people began to look up to the roof where they were seated and some began to point at them. Dan said that an M.P. climbed up to get them, and they were sure that they were in the kind of trouble that could get his family sent home. Dan said that the M.P. took him right up to the car where Roosevelt was waiting. The President cocked his head back and said: “Any two boys who would climb to such heights to see the President of the United States ought to be able to shake his hand;” and, greet them he did.

I realize that this is not a first person account, and that I wouldn’t be able to get it into the Reader’s Digest; but , I am sure that Dan would want this to be shared. I hope you can find a place for it.