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I found these photos in a stack of photos at a tractor show. First photo clearly shows a US soldier with his hand on a US Army marked and plated German Volkswagen. You can see it has 557 INF-557th Infantry, and the plate is dated 1951. It is a typical snapshot, not in true focus and is a double exposer; it is still an interesting photo. Second show two soldiers seated in the same Volkswagen. I suspect the US Government had a program to purchase German made items to help recover the post-war economy. It would be cool to replicate this vehicle and show up at a military vehicle rally! Thanks for looking at the following photos, comments welcome! Note the oversized cap badge, the soldiers were members of an army band in Europe.

BKW

 

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Never heard of a 557th Infantry, or Battalion, there was a 557th Field Artillery Group but that was in the 60s. The HEID we're pretty sure stand for Heidelberg, the city where U.S. Army Europe was HQed, but stumped on the 557 INF.

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Specific areas of collecting and buying interest:

WWI/WWII 40th (Sunshine) Division, Camp Kearny, Camp Harry Jones, WWI/WWII 158th Infantry, USS Oklahoma, USS Swordfish (SS-193), Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Mexican Border (1916),

Norman Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Norman, OK, Tinker Field or AFB, Submariner Items, Knives, Bayonets, Sweetheart Jewelry, other unique

or odd items with interesting stories.

 

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Specific areas of collecting and buying interest:

WWI/WWII 40th (Sunshine) Division, Camp Kearny, Camp Harry Jones, WWI/WWII 158th Infantry, USS Oklahoma, USS Swordfish (SS-193), Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Mexican Border (1916),

Norman Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Norman, OK, Tinker Field or AFB, Submariner Items, Knives, Bayonets, Sweetheart Jewelry, other unique

or odd items with interesting stories.

 

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I guess a Bug would also be a practical and more comfortable 'runaround' than a jeep, certainly in peacetime. I believe at this moment in time the VW plant was still under British control, and that might have something to do with it (the British army put the plant back in working order after finding a few VW's in the rubble and ordered a bunch of Beetles for military use themselves). Also note that paint is glossy, even reflecting the image of the photographer!

Money can't buy happiness -- but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than in a Yugo.

 

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During the late 1970's and early 1980's we had Volkswagen Vanegans assigned as administrative vehicles to battalion level and above. Inexpensive and efficient, you couldn't beat them. Plus, if they had a maintenance problem or broke down on the road, you had a Volkswagen dealership readily available in practically every town of any size in Germany.

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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This, is definitely a first.

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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Thanks so much for the great information aznation, you've provided me some excellent info once again! After having a chance to read the info, I'm sure the band and Honor Guard traveled and performed together. The article mention the various helmets, see this post showing more photos from this album

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/331878-official-us-army-chrome-helmet-photos/

It is interesting that it is not mentioned that they are black soldiers.

Very interesting unit, I'm glad I found the photos so we all could learn a bit about this obscure unit.

BKW

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You're welcome Brian. Yes, I'm sure they traveled and performed together. I noticed that the article mentioned the various helmets so I posted a link from this post to your other post. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was intentional not mentioning about the soldiers color. Those are some great photos you have there. Thank you for posting them. That unit is very interesting.

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Specific areas of collecting and buying interest:

WWI/WWII 40th (Sunshine) Division, Camp Kearny, Camp Harry Jones, WWI/WWII 158th Infantry, USS Oklahoma, USS Swordfish (SS-193), Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Mexican Border (1916),

Norman Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Norman, OK, Tinker Field or AFB, Submariner Items, Knives, Bayonets, Sweetheart Jewelry, other unique

or odd items with interesting stories.

 

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That's a pretty cool, and I imagine somewhat rare VW manual ordnance. Thank you for sharing that.

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Specific areas of collecting and buying interest:

WWI/WWII 40th (Sunshine) Division, Camp Kearny, Camp Harry Jones, WWI/WWII 158th Infantry, USS Oklahoma, USS Swordfish (SS-193), Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Mexican Border (1916),

Norman Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Norman, OK, Tinker Field or AFB, Submariner Items, Knives, Bayonets, Sweetheart Jewelry, other unique

or odd items with interesting stories.

 

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Flash forward to 1981...

 

For as many times as I rode in one of these vans, I am surprised I do not have more photos of them in use.

 

This one was assigned to the 708th Maintenance Bn. The major walking towards our van was our chief of operations. We were out surveying sites for an upcoming exercise.

 

On the other side of the door was US Army in white and a vehicle number. I don't believe we used bumper numbers on these.

 

Among other things, these were sometimes used to transport our higher ranking NCO's and their families to the departure gate at Rhein Main airport. More typically they took our BN commander to conferences or visits to outlying units. You have to remember, our units were garrisoned or deployed in about 6 to 8 locations across Germany at a time.

 

A captain I know won a life saving medal in one of these. The vehicle was driving at speed down an autobahn when the side door latch failed. A Sp/4 was sitting next to the door and almost went flying out. If it wasn't for the good captain he would have flown out of the vehicle.

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Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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I can't add anything useful to this thread, but I want to thank you for posting that photo of the VW. I have had this kit stashed away for a long time and I was never sure what to do with it.

 

I wanted to build and paint it in use by the US Army but I had never seen a photo of one. I have photos of Kublewagens and Schwimmwagens in US service and I figured that some GI somewhere must have gotten ahold of one of these VWs and painted it up in OD with US markings, but until now I have never seen any photos. Finally, thanks to your photo I know they were used by the Army and I now know how paint this kit, so, thank you. That's a great photo.

 

Ordnance, does you manual have any information about paint and marking of the vehicle?

 

 

 

 

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Flash forward to 1981...

 

For as many times as I rode in one of these vans, I am surprised I do not have more photos of them in use.

 

This one was assigned to the 708th Maintenance Bn. The major walking towards our van was our chief of operations. We were out surveying sites for an upcoming exercise.

 

On the other side of the door was US Army in white and a vehicle number. I don't believe we used bumper numbers on these.

 

 

 

That's a great photo. I built one of these in 1/35 scale a bit ago, I would have made the US army version if I had known they were used.

 

I know the Australian Army used some of the VW T1's in Vietnam.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Neat photos.

 

Notice the difference in the placement of the USA on the hood serial number.

 

I would guess the bumper marking is for Stuttgart.

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Having owned three VW beetles over the years it was fun to see this. I wonder if they removed the front passenger seat on any to allow easy access to the rear seat for VIP transport? Mexico City's once large population of beetle taxis did that and it would've made for a low-budget Army staff car :)


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  • 2 months later...

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