Dennis Boyd interviews Patriot’s Landing resident Paul Knoop, a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
And now back to answers for elders as we honor our military veterans. Carriage is the proud sponsor of our veteran segment hosted by former C L Seahawk Dennis Boyd. Hello again, this is Dennis Boyd, checking in from Patriots landing in Dupont Washington. Today. Here we’re with Paul noope. Paul is a resident here at Patriots landing, having served in the army for twenty nine years. Thank you for joining US ball. You’re welcome, lasure. What we are trying to do here is to kind of get a chance to honor the veterans in our community and kind of get a story for those in what I would say are my kids generations that may not have had a chance to understand what was going on back in nineteen fifty five and nineteen s and so on when you entered the military. Tell me about your you entered officer officers Canada school. No, it was ROTC, ROTC, excuse me, Western Kentucky State College at that time. Okay. Graduated from there in Nineteen fifty nine as a commission as a second lieutenant in the regular army. Okay, so I went to the field artillery officers basic course at Fort Sale, Oklahoma, and then was transferred to Germany and got to got to Germany in the fall of nineteen fifty nine. At that time I was married and had two children, one of whom was born at Fort Sale. So that was my my son and my wife and two children came over in later, in Nineteen fifteen, no, in early one thousand nine hundred and sixty. So they were staying with me there and in geese in Germany, where I was assigned to a two hundred eighty millimeter gun battalion, the old atomic cannon whoa spent about eighteen months there and then had completed my service with the field artillery and reverted to my basic branch of Chemical Corps and moved to Mannheim, Germany, with the fifteen chemical group. They had two companies in that group. One was a maintenance company and the other a depot company, and I worked in both of those companies as a platoon leader. First in the maintenance company, where we repaired anything from protective masks to flame throwers and tanks and so forth. GOING, go ahead, I’m sorry, I was going to ask this is so the chemical core was you were there basically to respond to a chemical attack? Or principally, yes, yes, the that wasn’t the primary mission of the chemical core is chemical defense, although we also had the responsibility for a planning chemical operations in retaliation, but that was strictly on a planning basis. As far as as far as I was concerned, at that time I was on the other end the the maintenance and the logistical side of the house, supplying smoker and age and mask and protective clothing and flame throwers and so forth to the combat arms. So tell me a little bit about the climate, the the political climate, if you will, at that time when you’re in Germany. Well, of course this was during the time when the Berlin Wall was erected and the Cuban missile crisis was also ongoing at that time. So it was a little and part of that was while I was in the field artillery battalion, that two hundred a millimeter gun battalion. So that got a little bit tense because that is, you know well, an atomic capable unit and it was part of the Defense of the folded gap in northern Germany, which is where the planners thought the major attack from the Soviet Union. What occurs? Come in through the folded gap with tanks, MM, principally tanks. So we had preplanned targets in various areas there to help blunt the attack, at least until the infantry units and the other armor units could get up to take care of them. It was a time. I remember the duck and cover drills that we would do in school because of the SOE. At that time, the tension between this US and the Soviet Union was so high, but Cuban mussile push could keeping music crisis and we were also nervous and you expected to hear the sirens go off for a nuclear weapon coming from Russia at that time, at any time. So it’s I guess each generation lives with a different fear, different threat hanging over them. Yes, whether it’s North Korea or the Soviet Union or whatever. Idly, yeah, so from Germany, what’s where’d you go from there? Well, from Germany we were reassigned to Fort McClellan, Alabama, which was the home of the Chemical Corps at that time. For the officers, career officers course, which was usually senior lieutenants and some captains. That was about a year long course and of course my family was with me there and we lived in government quarters at for McClellan. Following the course, I was reassigned to Fort Benning, Georgia into the chemical section of the Second Infantry Division, who was stationed at Fort Benning at that time. That was supposed to be a three year assignment and it was pretty close to that, although the that was during the time for the buildup of forces in Vietnam and the Second Infantry Division was merged with the eleventh their assault division, which was being tested at Fort Benning. They formed the First Cavalry Division and deployed to Vietnam. I was reassigned from the division on the merger. Reassigned from there to where did I go? I think that’s when I went to North Carolina to serve in an assignment with the North American Air Defense Command in a small air force radar site that served as the alternate command post for twenty if nowhered region headquartered at Fort Lee, Virginia. Very interesting assignment for three years, serving an army major at that time with the with the air force. There were two other army officers there, both of whom were air defense officers and operated the air defense system, part of the air defense system, coordinating with the Air Force for the Army Nike Air Defense Batteries. So you were basically the eyes looking east. Well, they were. Yes, okay, I was supporting the battle staff with a chemical defense unit. Okay, basically for fallout prediction, any chemical weapons protection that was needed. That was my primary function. So not just chemicals you were just you were also dealing with radiation. Oh yeah, protection itself. The all of the chemical officers were what was known as prefix five qualified, qualified for Nuclear Weapons Employment and follow out prediction, which was our main function. If I can ask kind of the what would you want people, your kids and people in generations, as maybe grandkids are great grandchildren that you may not know? What would you want them to know about your service and what what your experiences were and what it meant to you? Well, I think I would want them to know, and I think my my children do know, that it was a very valuable experience and I firmly believe that when we did away with the draft, we made a mistake. I think every every young person should have some type of service to their government, to their homeland, their community and not just depend on the government to take care of them. Yeah, that we see that in other countries, you know, throughout the world, and whether it’s service as a Peace Corps something like that, or in the military, to be of service to others is is probably a great way to start your life out and get to know things a little bit better. As you look today to young people, like you said, the draft is there, but we see so much more automation coming up and almost taking ou the removal of people from the military. And is that what is your thoughts there? Well, I I consider myself somewhat tech savvy, if you will, but I could not keep up with today’s generation of young officers and Encos and enlisted. They have so much more technical knowledge and dexterity, thumb dexteritory of nothing else, and computer savvy that I just find it incredible that today generation is that much further ahead than we were. Even when I retired in one thousand nine hundred and eighty eight, we were just starting to get computers. Today you don’t do anything without a computer right. Well, Paul, I want to take a minute here and thank you very much for your time, your service and willingness to tell us the stories, and that was the whole intent here, is to take a moment and honor our local veterans and the time that they’ve served and what they’ve given this country. Thank you very much. All right and pleasure. This has been a special honoring veterans. Presentation of answers for elders brought to you by carriage. 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Originally published July 22, 2017