Joe Steiner
56-58 ASA



Joe sent in a box of pictures to scan and it's going to take some time to get through them. I scanned 30 of them to begin with as they are pictures of the infamous PX fire at Radio Marina. I'll add info about the fire as Joe passes it to me.

The following is Joe's personal interpretation of the events. Whether it happened this way or what exactly happened we may never know.

My recollection of this whole affair is as follows.

Time frame was late '56. I was in Ghinda when all this happened, so, obviously, I didn't take these photos. Jim Root - 059 from Jordan, NY sent them to me. It was generally accepted that this fire was set intentionally under orders from the Post Commander. Sorry, but I don't recall his name. As the story went, he and his cohorts were taking kickbacks from local officials for work done in connection with base operations, and some Brass from the ZI were on their way to see them. This was instigated by several guys who had written their congressmen and complained that their mail was being intercepted and read by someone on post.

Attempts to put out the fire were hindered in their efforts because there was no water pressure. The only hose they had was a garden hose, and very little water came out of it. Strange? Probably not.

Adjacent to the PX was HQ building. Unfortunately, it also burned to the ground, along with all its records, including my two Article 15's. Dang.

Also during this time frame there was a lot of troop harrassment going on, such as midnight drills on the parade field, frequent inspections and room searches, strict adherence to off-post dress, restrictions to post, and even inspections of our mail. This eventually led to a strike which consisted of 058's on A and B tricks. Others could have been involved, but I'm kinda hazy on some details. We claimed we couldn't copy any code due to garbled signals. (Too much bird shit on the antennas.) The trick chiefs tried, but since they were woefully out of practice, they couldn't copy anything over five wpm. As a result, some of us were tossed in the stockade while others were restricted to our barracks. I was lucky enough to participate in the 3 am marches on the parade grounds a few times. These really pissed off some of the officers because we yelled loudly enough to wake them up in their quarters.

The end result of all this was a completly new contingent of post management and the relaxation of the chicken-shit that had preceeded it.

It also produced a "hate" campaign, which I will take credit for starting. It began with a small rectangular piece of paper taped to the backside of my tie. On it I had printed the word HATE, which stood for "hate the army" and what it had become. As I would approach someone, I would flip my tie around so that they could see the sign, they would nod their heads in agreement, and it spread from there. It even produced a large hate sign on a lawn made of whitewashed rocks.

After the change in command had taken place, all that stuff came to a stop.

Another story that I would like to clear up is how string ties came into vogue. This, too, I took upon myself to initiate. Many of us felt that having to wear a shirt and tie whenever we went off post was just plain stupid and ridiculous. Therefore, in an effort to needle the brass in any way I could, I decided that a string tie - of which I had a couple in my foot locker - was not outlawed by the regulations. So, I put one on and headed for town out the back gate. FWIW, on the old post, this "back gate" was just that - a wooden gate with nobody around. As expected, the first MP we encountered arrested me for being out of uniform. Back to post we went and into the HQ office. I asked the guy behind the desk to please check the regulations to see if "string tie" was specifically mentioned. After about 15 minutes of diligent searching and a couple of phone calls, he determined that it was not disallowed and said it was ok to wear. Victory!! Yes! F#$% those b@st@rds!
The pictures in the above album of the 1956 PX fire on the old Radio Marina post are absolutely riveting. Interesting, but at the same time sad to see buildings that were part of my little world there for 24 month go up in flame. The entry said the fire occurred in late 1956, so that would be 15 months or so after I departed. I'm glad I was not there to see it. I searched my picture files and see that I have a picture that I took from almost the same vantage point, albeit in mid 1954. Here are both Steiner's and my picture to show the contrast. My pic was taken a little closer in than Steiner's pic, but everything else looks the same. The gabled building in the center is the post barber shop (see the sign "Post Barber Shop" on both pictures), and the building on the right is the PX. The post bulletin board is also visible on both pictures.
(courtesy of Bob Hart '53 - '55)

1954 before fire
Radio Marina PX 1954

1956 during fire
Radio Marina PX 1956 Fire