6/08/2011

Afsouth Naples Italy

This past Saturday, Vice-President Joe Biden went to Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) in Naples, Italy to thank the troops there for service in operations in the Middle East. I was a bit stunned when I first saw the clip on TV. I was stationed at Afsouth Naples, Italy for just over three years from March of 1971 to April of 1974. I had good times and I had bad times there. I have actually gotten in touch with some of the guys I worked with on Facebook. But, it seems they no longer want to chat and I can understand that. Many years have passed. But, the crux of this blog entry is about those troops being there on a Saturday to greet VP Joe Biden. You see, they really had no choice but to be there.

In May of 1972, I received word from my commanding officer that Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird would be visiting at Afsouth Naples, Italy to visit everyone. Of course, it would be on a Saturday. I worked shift work at a communications center on base. It did not matter to me that he was coming on a Saturday. Unfortunately, the rotation of shifts was that I would be off on the Saturday the Secretary of Defense would be on base. Attendance was mandatory, no excuse, except a valid doctor's excuse, would be accepted. Well, I decided I better go. And so I did. It was a hot, muggy day in Naples as I remember now. The speech droned on for over an hour. But, thankfully, Mr. Laird ended it by thanking us for being there (as if we had a choice).

What happened to the foolhardy individuals who did not show up? Well, they had to go on "Butt Duty." Butt Duty was for those flaunting authority. You had to pick up, by hand, every cigarette butt you could find on the base there at Afsouth. If at the end of the day (usually around 5PM) if the officer in charge (OIC) found just one cigarette butt after you had been bending over all day long, you would be back the next day to do it all over again. Try picking up cigarette butts by hand for eight hours and see how much fun it is. I guarantee, those that did not show up for the Secretary of Defense's speech, made damn sure they showed up for the next speech that was mandatory.




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14 comments:

David,

I was at AFSOUTH from Jan 1970 through Dec 1972, and worked in Tunnel 4. Based on the comments I read in your entry about Melvin laird coming to town, I think we might have worked in the same location. I was in Crypto maintenance, a member of the US Army Element. What a small world that we might have worked at the same place...

You can reach me at paulgscannell@verizon.net

Paul.

Jerry, so glad to get this comment from you. I worked at the Joint Liason Office in the building next to the main gate, which had the little cafe on the right side of the building. I am thinking that was Bldg D. But, I am not sure. I had a lot of interaction with Navy radio operators in the building adjacent to us. I was a cryptographic operator in the U.S. Navy. JLO was a joing command as the name implies. My commanding officer was at first a Army LTC and later, an Army Major. I will email you and see if we might have run across each other.

David

David -
The JLO Army CO was LTC David Lynn, and he was followed by Army Major James Davis.

I was assigned to JLO from 1976-1978. AFSOUTH at that location is closed now - actually saw it not long ago.

Many memories!! Jim

Jim, you came about 2 years after I left JLO. My commanding officer was an Army Major James R. Caruso. It was some good times there. I think about it quite often. Thanks for coming by.

David - I remember seeing (older) memos posted on the JLO bulletin boards with Maj Caruso's signature. You were a Navy CT - the CT's assigned to JLO during my tenure were Emery H. Davis III, Victor Heir, and Forrest (Junior) Richardson. They, as I recall, did not like the work assignment - they felt that it was below CT training and work. AFSOUTH and NSA bases are closed now. The base was moveed to Lago Patria last year. Building Q still sits there though with all of our JLO memories :) Jim

Jim, thanks for coming by again. I have come across 3 of my former coworkers on Facebook. One of them I had total disdain for and still do. I very briefly corresponded with him. Another one, Robert Fahnstock of Grand Island, Nebraska, exchanged email with me on FB. He abruptly disappeared from FB for reasons I still don't understand. Another one, Donald Fitch, who I had high regard for simply doesn't want to renew friendships. I understand though. Many years have lapsed since our time there.

I knew about AFSOUTH closing down there. That is very sad to me. I basically transformed from a boy to a man in Naples. Major Caruso took over from LTC Ralph E. Nollner (deceased). I won't disparage the dead. So, I won't comment on him. I never felt the work at JLO was beneath me. But, what I didn't understand is why did I have to conform to U.S. Army standards, rather than U.S. Navy standards. During my time in USN, you were allowed to grow a beard or mustache (not that I could). Anyway, thanks for coming by. It really brings back the memories to me. Come back any time you wish, Jim.

David

David -
I recall seeing one other JLO Alum on a blog -Sgt. Steve Rigoni (my era at JLO). I did not initiate contact. My first CO, LTC David Lynn departed JLO very quickly and Maj James David (from SHAPE) assumed command. I spent 27 months at JLO, lived in Pozzuoli, and had the time of my life living in Italy an 18-20 year old. By the way, the Navy CTs while I was at JLO were allowed beards, etc Did you retire from the Navy? Jim

Jim, No, I was in the Navy for just 4 years. I would have been eventually court martialed if I had stayed longer, I think. I could never accept an organization that places more value on what you have on top of your head than what you have inside it.

My time in Naples seems like a dream now as I will see my 62nd birthday in about five days. I was stationed in Naples for 39 months. Again, it seems it happened to another person and not me. Maybe that is more truth to that than I would like to acknowledge since that was a very young and immature man. hehe.

David -

I hope to go back to Naples again ths year (also went in 2012 and 2013). I'm facsinated with the place. I do make it a point to go by AFSOUTH to just stare and reflect. We should attempt to try and put together a JLO reunion!! That would be the ultimate gathering!
Take care, Jim

David,

You may have reminded LTC Nollner of his eldest son, a long-haired, bearded x-sailor (65-69) with authority issues.

ralphedo@hotmail.com

Ralph III

Ralph,

I was astonished when I read your comment. I always thought there had to be some reason LTC Nollner hated the Navy so much. Now, some 40 something years later, it all makes sense. I won't say anything bad about your dad. But, he is the main reason I left the Navy. In retrospect, maybe I should feel grateful to him. He picked on me consistently over any little thing. Like you, I resented authority. I eventually matured and changed. I greatly appreciate you coming by. It means a lot to me.

I just happened by this page looking for some information about the badges we were given, the St. Mark the Lion. I was at AFSOTH from JUN 69 to JUN 71. I knew a ETN2 Brian? that was at the NCU, we were both amateur radio ops. We are making a trip over in March, my wife has never been in Italy. I was a ETN2 when I left. Glad to have stumbled onto your site, if you decide to try to have a reunion I would be interested. illyich@msn.com

John, I appreciate you coming by. I didn't know any ETs back in the day. I was a CT3 at the Joint Liason Office. I think we were in Building L or D. I can't remember. It was the building with the little cafe on the right side as you are facing the building. I don't know of any reunions being planned. But, they do have a facebook page you might be interested in joining. Thanks again.

This is Steve Rigoni. Am reading the blogs. Was at hip from 77-80. Give me some last names, as I don't recall some of these names. Im on facebook, currently living n southern fl

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