From Plastic to Flesh: The Real American Heroes

The year is 1953; the first color television goes on sale for about $1,175.
The United States, China, North Korea and South Korea had just signed a peace agreement ending the short lived Korean War. Joseph Stalin had died after 26 years of ruling the Soviet Union leaving Khrushchev as general secretary of the Soviet communist party. It was also the very beginning of the Cold War. NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) had only been around for 4 years and Germany was still occupied by allied forces after the Second World War. There was a lot going on. For the US Army, after years of bitter fighting, it was time to shift from its combat missions and literally reorganize and retrain its forces for a new peacetime role: Reconstruct a devastated Germany and help shape it into a trusted friend and ally. The American Zone of Occupation covered more than 40,000 square miles and included nearly 1,400 miles of international and regional boundaries, extending from Austria in the south to the British zone in the north, and from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet zone in the east to the Rhine River and the French zone in the west. It was approximately the size of Pennsylvania. More than 16 million German people lived in this area. It included many cities of considerable size, the largest being Frankfurt. It was there, just outside of town that a small group of soldiers from the 353rd Communications Reconnaissance Company, 503 Regiment was stationed. Under Captain Farley's command, the 353rd was in charged of monitoring any suspicious communications in the region. It was a peaceful time but still, the 353rd had a lot to do. Corporal Douglas F. LeGrand was among those men. A young soldier fresh out of Fort "Knox", Corporal LeGrand was responsible for most of the Regiment's communication equipment. Using money obtained by selling his C-Ration cigarettes on the black-market, Corporal LeGrand bought himself a camera and documented some of the 353rd daily routines.

What you are about to see are never before seen photographs taken by Corporal LeGrand while in Germany:

The occupation of Germany after World War II was perhaps the only successful post-combat operation in modern American history, unlike many other wars and unfortunately, much different than the results achieved in Iraq. Today's Germany is a country that drew the right conclusions from the tragedy of World War II. It created mechanisms that prevented repetition of the past and it has a huge affect on the modern world. Nowadays Germany is our strategic partner, with whom we are connected by joint or similar positions on the fundamental international questions. All thanks to men like Douglas F. LeGrand. It would certainly be nice to be able to repeat history in the Middle East. One can only dream. Happy 4th of July!

We'll be back very soon with more episodes featuring lots of pictures taken at the St. Luis Valley and Valley View Hot Springs.

by Corporal John Harris, June 28, 2007