From 1975 through 1978, I was assigned by Army Material Command as the Logistics Assistance Officer – Europe, with headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. I had representatives with me from the AMC Commidity Commands including tank, automotive, missile, ammunition, aviation, etc. The LAO normally attended staff meetings with the CG USAREUR but, my boss and rating officer were in AMC HQ, in Alexandria, VA.
This story concerns enlisted good conduct medals. There is a unique ending.
After arriving in Heidelberg, I was walking inside the HQ building and observed a four star general, the USAREUR Commander, George Blanchard, approaching. I saluted and greeted the general who stopped me and said. “Colonel, what is that red ribbon that is included in your collection?” I answered, “That is a Navy Good Conduct Medal, sir.” General Blanchard replied, “ I have a similar medal, but it is an Army Good conduct Medal which I received when I was enlisted and before I went to the Academy.” He then asked me what my job was and for whom I worked. I told him that I sat with the USAREUR G-4, but my superior was in Army Material Command in Virginia. He then said that he would like me to attend his command weekly briefings and be prepared to advise his commanders on pertinent logistics problems
I told him that we have a critical financial problem with our tank rebuild plant in Mainz. EUARSEUR units were sending tanks to Mainz for engine rebuild maintenance without engines. They had no OVM on board, and sometimes they had live ammunition on board.
We realize that supply sergeants like to have additional replacement parts, but Army Material Command has to buy those parts to complete the tank overhauls. We are also ill prepared to remove and secure the live tank ammunition left in the tank.
General Blanchard turned to his Armor Division Commanders and other commanders who had tanks within their units and said, “Did you hear that, gentlemen? I don’t expect this condition to exist after this meeting.”
As you can imagine, those commanders didn’t think too kindly of Army Commanders and a Colonel who were wearing good conduct medals.