John Ahouse
Long Beach, California
German Linguist

Early Years

I enlisted in December 1958. Basic training was at Ft. Dix (N.J.) followed by advanced training at Ft. Devens (Mass.). After a number of weeks I was transferred to Frankfurt as a German linguist. Others receiving this assignment were were products of the Army Language School (later: the Defense Language Institute) in Monterey (Calif.)  I had learned the German language earlier  and “tested into” the German MOS at Ft. Devens.

Assignment in Berlin

Our first posting in Germany was to Frankfurt, billeted downtown in Gutleut Kaserne next to the train station. Daytimes we were bussed to the sprawling I.G. Farben building, headquarters for the Supreme Allied Command or S.H.A.P.E., where the ASA had offices and where we were given practice in telephone intercept in preparation for the assignment in Berlin. Transfer to Berlin occurred in late spring of 1959, where our group of five arrived together for billeting at Andrews Barracks. Our work station was at the easternmost “tower” of Tempelhof airport.  The five of us, who formed the nucleus of my experience with the 280th ASA Company, included Bill Bond, Bob Buhrman, Jerry Gathings and Luis Torres in addition to myself.

The laid-back character of duty in Berlin is well described elsewhere on this site. In October 0f 1990, it came to an abrupt end when officers and enlisted men from the Berlin mission were transferred out of the city following a security breach. I completed my enlistment at Herzo Base in southern Germany before returning to my home in New York City.

Later Years

Stateside in subsequent years I completed Master’s degrees in linguistics and librarianship, later working as librarian in Long Beach, Calif. (California State University) and retiring in 2005 from the University of Southern California.  Post-unification, I made numerous trips to Germany, especially Berlin. In retirement, I have had the good fortune to work as docent and archivist at the “Wende Museum of the Cold War” in Culver City, Calif. With its focus on Berlin and divided Germany, this volunteer occupation has really brought me full circle.

Armen Tashdinian has written about the 280th as he knew it. I remember him from my first year there along with two of the people he mentions in his bio, Doug Moore and Jon Miller. For many years I remained in contact with Jerry Gathings from our group but none of the others. Jerry passed away in July of 2011.

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