Schneeberg Memories .....



I’m Don "Rigger" Riggs. I see you have a picture of me in your “people we knew” photo album. First picture. I don’t remember who is in the picture with me.

I discovered your web site a couple months ago. Great web site. You’ve done an amazing job. I stole a few e-mail addresses from your site and contacted a few guys

 My wife Deb and I, live above 9,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado . Near the little town of Bailey . We love it. We get some pretty snowy winters but nothing like Schneeberg.

 I was on Schneeberg in late ’67, ’68 and ’69. I’ve seen the names of most of the guys I was with mentioned on your site. A couple I don’t remember seeing mentioned are:

Jim “Burt” Umstadt - the banker. He lent money to a lot of us at DLI and on the hill. If he would have charged interest, he would have been a rich man.

Paul James - He was the weightlifter. He could bench press about 200,000 lbs. I think. He, Wally Price and someone else had a band for a short while. Wally was the lead screamer as I recall.

Dave? Wells - a California kid I believe.

Bill Stoffer – He was from Littleton . A suburb of Denver .

I remember a lot of the faces and many of the names, but in many cases I just can’t seem to connect the two.

When I got there, Bill Morris was my room leader. I think Muggsy Kramer and Gary Nash were in that room. Can’t remember who else. Someone mentioned Bill played “Young Girl” all the time on the jukebox. I remember when he got short, he played the song that goes “Give me a ticket for an Airplane, ain’t got time t o take a fast train…”,all the time.

Before I left I was the room leader. Terry VonDiest, Rich Hill and John French were in my room. Me, a room leader. Imagine that. Probably the least military of everyone on the hill at that time. Well, that’s the Army for you.

A few of the guys I was closest to are:

Steve Evans: - We were pretty close and hung around together before he went to Viet Nam .

Woody Dixon – He drove Steve and me around sometimes.

Hal “Smif”Smith – He was probably he best all around athlete on the hill. Played Quarterback on our football

 team. Seems we could have come up with a better nickname. At least “jock” or something.

Jim “Picka” Lapekas – I don’t know how he got that nickname, because he certainly wasn’t one.

Walt Bosserman – rumor had it that a relative of his actually ran moonshine.

When I saw Pete Ninos had died, it kind of bothered me. Pete was one of the strongest and probably the toughest guy over there. A very rare bird. One of the nicest guys you could hope to meet but a man you did not want to push into a fight. I got fairly close to him before I left. We were never close enough to go out drinking together or anything, but there were many nights I sat beside him at the bar when Erika was working. Got to know him pretty well. There were a number of nights we “helped” a fellow Schneeberger to the trick change truck. So many times in fact20that one night Pete actually looked over at me and said, “He’s putting on a little weight isn’t he?” Now why do I remember that?

Sorry to see Maddog is gone also. Maddog replaced Sgt. Rainer. I really liked Rainer. There were a couple times I got into …. "bad luck" and he could have reported me but sit me down and gave me a good talking to instead. When I met Maddog I thought ‘Oh Noooo’. But I actually got to where I kind of liked the guy. He actually may have had something to do with the poem I wrote. Oh, did I tell you? Your web site inspired me to write a poem.

The last part of the poem is about a lady who was with a U.S.O. show that came up the hill to entertain us one time. When I met her, I was in the latrine shaving. I could never shave without nicking my neck and had just nicked myself when she walked into the latrine. Harry Martin, my trick chief, was on my left, shaving also. I said something like “aw look at that Harry. I just saw the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen a nd I got so excited I slit my throat. I’m going to bleed to death Harry.” Then when I when into the EM Club, I saw her and said “Oh, there she is.” Maddog was standing there and said “You stay away from that one Rigger, that one’s mine.” I don’t know if she sang to me because of what I said or if she overheard Magner and it ticked her off.

The only other poem type thing I’ve ever written was a song I wrote years ago that was inspired by my dad after he had died. My intent was to keep this poem short and sweet so people may actually read it but the damn thing turned on me. It grew into a monster. I don’t know if it is worthy of your time or space on your site, but I hope it is.

Don "Rigger" Riggs

February 2009